Mayo and Clare served up an evening of top class boxing at the Conway Gym and Fitness Centre yesterday evening. The large crowd in attendance were treated to a tournament of the highest quality, with entertainment not just from twenty four of the country’s top boxers, but from Piper Tom Lavin, Singer Louise Loftus, and DJ Johnny Pidgeon.

The evening began with music and colour with both teams parading behind their county colours, lead by piper Tom Lavin. Members of both teams were introduced to the crowd with 10 Irish Champions and three Irish internationals, along with numerous county and provincial champions on show, all appreciated by the knowledgeable crowd from both Mayo and a travelling contingent from Clare.

The action was preceeded by the National Anthem, sung beautifully by former All Ireland boxing Champion Louise Loftus. As is becoming the norm Aoife Bredigan was the first into action, performing as always at a high level. Aoife was in with a familiar face, Geesala’s Leah McDonagh. Aoife Hennigan continued her rehabilitation ahead of this months fixture in Germany with an educated performance with record seven time national champion Louise Donoghue.

First for Mayo v’s Clare was Ballinrobe’s Mayo, Connacht and National Champion, Jamie Butler. Jamie served up an exhibiton of boxing with Kilfenora’s Clare and Munster champion, and Irish title holder Shannon Murrihy, Butler eventually coming out on top.

Bout 2 saw Ennis boxing club exponent and Irish finalist from 2012 Tara Dowling in against Ardnaree Irish Champion Abbey Comiskey. Comiskey took the contest to Dowling from the outset and after a gruelling three rounds, got the decision deservedly.

Contest number 3 featured Ballinrobe double and current reigning Irish National Champion, Erin Heneghan. Heneghan’s opponent was the experienced Munster provincial champion SinĂ©ad Collins. Heneghan’s power proved the difference in a close encounter.

Next into action, was local boy and provincial champion Jack Kavanagh. Jack in his usual countering style against Kilfenora’s Munster Champion Conor Malone, put in one of the performances of the evening, and despite doing what looked to be enough dropped a close decision, however the bout was the ideal warm up for next weekend’s Mayo Championships.

Bout five between Ennis boxing club’s Munster champion Michael McDonagh and Ballinrobe’s Connacht Champion Evan Heneghan proved to be a hard hitting affair. Both boxers put their power on show, with Heneghan sinking some letal body blows. Despite this it was McDonagh who came out on top of a close one.

Next up for Mayo was county and provincial champion Claire McDonagh from Castlebar. Claire’s opponent, All Ireland Champion Caoilinn Mc Cormack brought all of her experience to the fore, but despite this McDonagh took her all the way to the final bell and only just dropped a narrow decision.

After the break Kilfenora’s County Champion Jack Devitt and Ballinrobe’s 2013 prospect Peter Butler took part in an exhibiton, but the bout was as tough as any competitive one on the evening. Both boxers put in performances worthy of the occasion.

Bout seven on the card welcomed European bronze medalist Sally Carrig from Ennis to the ring, along with four time national champion Ciara Ginty from Geesala. It was a clash of styles with the powerful Carrig coming up against the range of Ginty. It was a contest worthy of any stage and one which ebbed in both directions, with Carrig eventually getting the decision but one which could easily have gone the other way.

Number eight on the evening was a bout between Kilfenora’s Munster Champion Padraig Malone and Ballinrobe’s Connacht champion and National Cadet Finalist Damien Joyce. Another hard hitting affair and another clash of styles. Both lads had the power but Malone had the height advantage. Joyce worked well to the body throughout the contest but Malone’s long reach foound him a decision, but just.

Top of the bill on the evening and the bout awarded “fight of the night” was the 63kgs clash between Swinford’s, Mayo and Connacht Champion and two time Irish Finalist Ciara Sheedy and Kilfenora’s three time Irish Champion Kayleigh Mc Cormack. The large crowd gave both boxers a raptorous welcome and noise levels never dicipated. The crowd got what they had come to see, two quality boxers giving their all. At the final bell it was McCormack who was victorious in a close clash, but Sheedy will take heart from the closeness of the bout with the currently unbeaten McCormack. Signs of good things to come this season.

All in all a great evening for Swinford Boxing Club, Mayo and Clare boxing, and indeed, boxing in general. The boxers came and everyone represented and the crowd supported and went home happy. Result – Another great day and that’s what it’s all about!