IRISH team managers Jennifer O’Sullivan and Stephen Connolly hailed the performances of Cork’s Katie O’Keeffe at the European Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Kanturk BC ace, a bronze medallist at the 2018 Europeans, had to settle for silver on Sunday after being edged out on a 3-2 split decision following a ferocious 42kg final.
The Leesider, as she does in every bout, left everything in the ring, in a high tempo slugfest with Aurika Kostrytska, but the judges leaned toward the Ukrainian.
“I’m heartbroken for Katie as she gave it absolutely everything against the Ukrainian girl. You couldn’t have asked any more of her," said O’Sullivan.
“It was a very close fight and it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way, but Katie can be very proud of her performances for her country here this week."
O’Keeffe won two fights en route to the final after beating England’s Jocelyn Kilkenny in the last eight and stopping Italy’s Ferraris Matiloe in the first round in the semi-finals.
Michael O’Brien, President of the Cork County Boxing Board, said that they were proud of the accomplishments of O’Keeffe and performances of James O’Reilly (Togher BC) and Breanna Tobin (Spartan BC) in the Georgian capital.
“Katie is now a two-time European medallist and that is a fantastic achievement by any standard,” he said. “She boxed incredibly well in Georgia and only lost out by the narrowest of decisions for gold.
“She represented her club, county and country with pride against Europe’s finest as did James and Breanna. Congratulations to all three to the Irish squad in Georgia."
Tobin and O’Reilly were narrowly beaten by Tatia Bukia of Georgia and Hlib Hryhorian of Ukraine in the quarter-finals at the 17th edition of the tournament. O’Keeffe’s silver matches the performances of some of the legends of Irish boxing at this level.
In 2003, former two-weight world pro champion Carl Frampton secured silver for Ireland in Rome and two-time World Elite finalist Joe Ward took home silver from Portsmouth 2007.
The 2019 squad claimed two gold, six silver and 10 bronze in Tbilisi in a record haul for Irish boxing. The overall tally since the inaugural tournament at Rome 2003 now stands at 119 medals for Ireland.