By Caoilte de Barra
The Irish team for the Junior & Senior World Championships has been announced. Following a hugely successful appearance at the IMMAF World Cup event in Prague last year, the All-Ireland team are set to build on their 2021 medal tally. The team was selected by the IMMAA coaching team and athletes were chosen based on their performances at IMMAF/IMMAA events throughout last year.
At Junior Lightweight, Max Lally is making his first tournament appearance after graduating from the youth ranks. He won Welterweight gold at the Youth World Championships before going on a sensational regional run in Ireland. The four-fight run included titles at two separate weight classes, making him one of the most talked-about amateurs in Ireland.
Facing Lally in the Youth World Championship final was fellow countryman Jordan Scully who retained his spot in the squad. The young fighter will make his first junior appearance in the Welterweight division.
Senior Featherweight Gold medalist, Ryan Keogh is also returning. Back in August, he finished all four of his fights en route to gold. His impressive year recently earned the accolade of SBG HQ amateur fighter of the year. His wrestling and grappling ability was sensational and stood out from the crowd at the World Cup. He is in a very tough division so fans can expect to watch some incredible fights.
The Female fighters coming out of Ireland have been some of the more exciting in recent years. 8 female fighters will feature for Ireland at the upcoming tournament. Junior Flyweight World Cup winner Kiya O’Sullivan returns to continue her development through the IMMAF ranks. This will be her second tournament at Junior after making the jump from the Youth categories in 2021.
Another one to keep an eye on will be Kerry Ann Vernon. She returns on the back of an impressive debut tournament that saw her score a huge KO in the World Cup semi-final.
Speaking with IMMAF.org ahead of the tournament, Team Ireland Head Coach, Andy Ryan expressed his excitement to return to the World Championships and for Ireland to take home some medals.
“We’re super excited to be back at the IMMAF Worlds. We have a strong young team travelling with some senior experienced coaching staff. The level has improved over the last few years. It’s going to be a big challenge but we are ready for it. It looks like this could be the biggest world championships to date. It’s a great event to start the year. We’re really looking forward to it and bringing some medals home.”
Due to the high number of applications for the tournament the Irish team were unable to enter all selected members. Therefore, the team has four members selected that are on reserve in case space in the tournament frees up. The four reserves are – Stephen Purcell (Senior Male Bantamweight), Lewis Byrne (Senior Male Featherweight), Paddy Moran (Senior Male Lightweight) and Daniel O’ Sullivan (Senior Male Middleweight).
The full Irish squad confirmed for the tournament is as follows:
|Flyweight||Eabha Cruise||SBG HQ|
|Bantamweight||Sinead Ni Nuallain||SBG HQ|
|Flyweight||Kian McCarton||SBG HQ|
|Featherweight||Dean Lowe||SBG Clonmel|
|Lightweight||Max Lally||SBG Naas|
|Welterweight||Jordan Scully||SBG Tullamore|
|Atomweight||Nadine Abbott||Team Ryano|
|Atomweight||Caitlyn Hadfield||Team Ryano Causeway|
|Flyweight||Megan Hamill||SBG HQ|
|Bantamweight||Kerry Ann Vernon||SBG Cork|
|Flyweight||Jamie Abbott||Team Ryano|
|Flyweight||Gary Rooney||SBG HQ|
|Flyweight||Eoghan Teague||TR OMMA|
|Bantamweight||Taylor Quinn||Team Ryano|
|Featherweight||Ryan Keogh||SBG HQ|
|Featherweight||Damien McKenna||TR OMMA|
|Lightweight||Solomon Simon||Team Ryano Waterford|
|Welterweight||Cameron Clements||Team Ryano OMMA|
|Welterweight||Ethan Guerin||SBG Cork|
|Middleweight||Paul Buckley||MMA Cork|
Team Ireland Coaching Staff accompanying the squad will be – Head Coach Andy Ryan, John Kavanagh, Liam-Og Griffin, Marlene Griffin, Arann Maguire, Bobby Meade, Paddy Holohan, Alexander O Sullivan, Sergey Pikulskiy, Gerry Poltorak and Kieran Davern.