JUDE Gallagher produced a performance that belied his tender 18 years-of-age to defeat Regan Buckley and earn the 52kg Irish National Elite Championship title at the first attempt on Friday night.
The Two Castles Boxing Club fighter and his St Theresa’s counterpart served up an encounter that was described on the official IABA website as ‘a clash that matched the classic 2009 final between Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce and two-weight World pro champion Carl Frampton in terms of drama and action’.
The two pugilists fought with intensity, guts and guilt throughout an engrossing clash before Gallagher had his hand raised in victory on a night of celebration for the Newtownstewart man, who alongside Daina Moorehouse, was named boxer of the tournament.
“It was great, unreal!,” beamed the Sacred Heart College pupil.
“I boxed well, to be fair, it was a good win and it was really good to get the boxer of the tournament award, especially at my first elite tournament. There were some good names in the tournament, so I was buzzing to get that.
“We had a game plan and we went and carried it out. It worked well because we won, but it was a tough fight and I had to work very hard.
“He’s a tough lad, a senior boxer the last few years and he was the reigning 49kg champion. He’s a durable lad, but I was just a bit better all around, sharper and quicker!”
Former Elite champion Eric Donovan worked Gallagher’s corner on the night and said he’d made an arrangement with pro boxing chiefs to weigh-in a day late ahead of his 11th paid fight in Glasgow on Saturday night.
And Gallagher was quick to not only pay tribute to his coach, but Donovan’s predecessors who have helped shape him into the boxer he is today.
“Training with Eric Donovan brought me on leaps and bounds over the last two or three months,” he acknowledged.
“He polished me off, but I’ve been working my whole career with Mickey O’Neill, my dad [John Gallagher] and Kevin Simmonds, top coaches, but Eric has come in with some fresh ideas, experience and he’s done it all before himself. That knowledge and experience was a great help.”
Having sealed a Senior crown during the Olympics cycle has now thrown the Tyrone teenager’s name into the mix for Tokyo in 2020 and he is hoping he can force his way into the Irish team for the biggest amateur boxing event of them all.
“We’ll see now, but it was good to win that because that will definitely put my name into the selection process,” he added.
“Hopefully now we will get looked at or assessed for the Olympics by the High Performance Team.
“I was involved on the youth side but I’ll definitely be involved in the High Performance set-up after winning that, which hopefully means I’ll be in the Olympics conversations. That would be brilliant.”