Harrington’s brilliant Euro bronze in Bulgaria

by Dave Donnelly

Portland Row woman Kellie Harrington landed an elite international boxing medal this week as she won bronze at the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The former Glasnevin boxer – now representing St Mary’s Tallaght – fought her way to the semi-finals before suffering a heart-breaking 4-1 split decision defeat to Mira Potkonen.

Reflecting on the tournament, Harrington said it was mixed emotions: “Athough I am so heartbroken right now, I am also happy to medal at this tournament.

“I have been out here at these championships many times trying to medal and never succeeded but, this time, I did so that means all my hard work is finally starting to pay off.”

Harrington was part of a three-woman Irish team competing at Europe’s top women’s boxing event under team manager Bernard Dunne and head coach Zaur Antia.

Former Shamrock Rovers footballer-turned-boxing talent Grainne Walsh fell short in the 69kg category, while Michaela Walsh of Belfast brought home a second bronze at 57kg.

Harrington’s opponent Potkonen was a bronze medallist at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and presented a daunting challenge to the Irish amateur star in the 60kg category.

The pair met in the final of the 2017 Europeans, which Potkonen won, and the rangey Finn again managed to present a better picture to the judges.

Potkonen beat Katie Taylor on the way to the semi-finals in Rio and again came out on top against Taylor’s successor as Ireland’s newest amateur superstar.

It was a tight contest throughout, with Harrington switching between southpaw and orthodox stance in search of scoring shots, but Potkonen was deemed the more efficient by the judges.

Harrington’s best spell came during the second round, when she landed a straight left down the middle to rock the Finn, but her opponent continued to land a greater volume of shots.

While Harrington’s varied attack ensured she landed good punches in all three rounds, Potkonen’s more orthodox style meant she was able to put together more eye-catching combinations.

It brought a frustrating end to an impressive competition by Harrington, who is on course to peak in time for the Tokyo Olympics in two years’ time.

She was a 5-0 winner over Katerina Humlova of the Czech Republic in the round of 16 and followed that up with an impressive 4-1 win over Ukraine’s Iulia Tsyplakova in the quarters.

“Huge congratulations to St Mary’s boxer Kellie Harrington on winning European Bronze today,” St Mary’s Boxing Club wrote on Facebook.

“Kellie was very unlucky to be beaten on a split decision yesterday in the semi-finals. Kellie’s performances over the tournament were excellent and we feel she’s not too far away from gold.

“She is excellent with the kids in the club and a true role model for up and coming boxers. Keep the head up, we at the club are so proud of what you’ve achieved.”

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