It’s Ireland’s busiest day yet in the boxing ring at the European Games in Baku – and the first Irish medal of the Games may arrive today at the Gymnastics Centre. After posting the best result on the floor in Thursday’s individual all-around final, Kieran Behan will be one of the prime contenders in that discipline during today’s individual apparatus finals. Behan’s routine is scheduled for around midday Irish time. There are round of 16 fights at the Crystal Hall in boxing today for flyweight Myles Casey, lightweight Sean McComb, welterweight Adam Nolan and at super-heavy, Dean Gardiner. Casey goes into the ring against home Azerbaijan favourite Elvin Mamishzada, while the rest all have to do battle with tough Italians. McComb faces Donato Cosenza, Wexfordman Nolan’s opposition is in the form of Dario Moriello, and Gardiner goes in at 5:15 Irish time against Guido Vianello. Michaela Walsh started the day’s boxing action at bantamweight against Elena Saveleva of Russia, losing to a unanimous points decision. Only one judge awarded the Irishwoman a round, as Walsh succumbed 40-36 40-36 39-37. Caroline Ryan will be looking to improve on her 15th place finish from Wednesday’s time trial in today’s women’s cycling road race, while Ireland’s Darren Wallace is in the archery individual knockouts, starting against Italian David Pasqualucci in the last 64. Yesterday Irish fighters Brendan Irvine and Ceire Smith both won through to boxing quarter-finals. Smith, the first ever Irish female boxer to enter the ring at a European Games, was awarded every single round by every judge in a comprehensive unanimous points decision over Norwegian Camilla Johansen. The 22-year-old flyweight from Cavan was given a 40-36 margin by all three scoring judges, and next faces Saiana Sagataeva in Monday’s quarter-final, after the Russian’s points win over Italian Terry Gordini. Irvine of St Paul’s Belfast had scored a similarly facile victory to reach the men’s light-flyweight quarter-finals at the Crystal Hall, with a 30-26 30-27 29-28 triumph over Bulgarian Tinko Banabakov, who was only awarded one round by one judge. Irvine next fights hot former European Champion Salman Alizada of host nation Azerbaijan in Monday’s last-eight. Alizada was a gold medallist at the European Amateur Championships in 2011, and followed up that achievement with a bronze two years ago. In archery, Sinead Cuthbert was dismissed 6-0 by Natalia Erdynieva of Russia in the first round of the women’s individual competition, while Natasha McManus was seven places away from the final of the 1m springboard diving, coming 19th in qualifying, as gold went to Russia yet again through Maria Polykova.
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