Moate's Joe Ward has guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal in the European boxing championships with a wonderful victory over Italian opponent Fiori Simeno in Turkey yesterday (Tuesday)..
Ward and Ray Moylette from Westport were the only two of the six Irish boxers, who were competing in the quarter-finals in the Turkish city of Ankara, who managed secured medals yesterday.
The Moate man trailed 6-4 after the opening round, but his physical strength and boxing ability came to the fore as he eventually claimed a 15-13 victory.
Ward's victory sets up a semi-final showdown with a much more experienced opponent Imre Szello of Hungary tomorrow (Thursday).
At 17 years of age, Ward is the youngest member of the Irish squad at the European Championships.
Dominic O'Rourke, director of boxing with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, was delighted with the performances of Ward and Moylette (20).
"To get amongst the medals at this tournament is a fantastic achievement by any standard, and they can be very, very proud of their performances. Both of them boxed especially well, and all the more so when you consider how young they are.
"Ray had his share of injuries in the last couple of years but is now beginning to fulfil the promise he showed when winning in Guadalajara, while Joe, let's face it, is a quite exceptional talent for his age," said O'Rourke.
"We have said all along, though, that being national champion doesn't guarantee anyone their place in the World Championships, and I'm pretty sure Joe will be facing Kenny Egan when we have the box-offs in mid-August," added O'Rourke.