Boxing: National Elite Championships, national stadium

by Jonny Stapleton

Winning a first National Elite title was both the end of a long journey for Christopher O’Relly and the start of a new adventure.

The Balbriggan fighter was an underage Irish international, who disappeared from the sport in recent times, only to return with a bang last weekend.

The 25-year-old grabbed his breakthrough chance to winning back-to-back Dublin derbies to claim the 75kg National Elite title – and now that he is number 1 at the weight the Comeback Kid declares he is here to stay.

O’Reilly wants to test himself at Elite international level.

“This is only the start,” he told “It’s a great tournament to win but this is where the doors start opening. Although it’s the end of the tournament it’s the start of another chapter. I’m looking forward to everything that’s coming my way now.

While 75kg isn’t an Olympic weight, the Holy Family Drogheda fighter will be favoured to represent Ireland at the World Championships in May or the European Games in June if the High Performance elect to send fulls teams.    

“I’d love to represent Ireland at the Europeans and the Worlds and I’d love to medal at those tournaments as well. I’d love to turn pro further down the line too,” he adds on the journey ahead.

The road ahead excites O’Reilly and reflecting on the path he has just trodden makes him smile too.

The famously entertaining Dubliner only came back to the sport after a two year sabbatical late last year only to lose a Senior [Intermediate] final. He soldiered on, entered the Elites, got revenge over Gavin Rafferty, the fighter who beat him in the Senior decider, after an all-action semi-final and beat rising star Joshua Olaniyan in a keenly contested final.

“This means everything,” he beamed. “To think this time last year I wasn’t even boxing. I was away from the sport for two years. When I came back I came back with no real goals. I was back to enjoy it and then I just kept progressing and progressing and I got back to my best. I’m chuffed now. Joshua was a very good opponent and I had to be thinking all the time. I needed a very big last round to convince the judges. 

It was a very good fight and I had a tough fight in the semis too. I’m delighted with the win, the hard work paid off.”

Underage graduate Niamh Fay of Ballybougall beat Jennifer Lehane to win the 54kg title and Monkstown duo Sean Mari and Jack Marley won the flyweight and heavyweight titles respectively.

Harrington made it a perfect 10 National Elite crowns with 60kg victory over Zara Breslin of Tramore, while Smithfields Ukrainian Dmytro Oliynyk won the 86kg crown.

Featured Image: 21 January 2023; Joshua Olaniyan of Jobstown Boxing Club, Dublin, left, and Christopher O’Reilly of Holy Family Drogheda Boxing Club, Louth, during their middleweight 75kg final bout at the IABA National Elite Boxing Championships Finals at the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin.

Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Related Articles