Wednesday’s Antrim Football Championships’ previews (all games 7.30pm)
CARL FRAMPTON will now face Darren Traynor at the BT Sport Studios on Saturday night as the Scot steps in for initial opponent Vahram Vardanyan.The Armenian was to run into issues surrounding a work visa so was forced to withdraw from the fight last week, so instead it will be Aberdeen's Traynor who will step into the breach for 'The Jackal' in a super-featherweight clash.Traynor had been put on standby for a number of weeks and that proved an astute move as Vardanyan's enforced withdrawal could have left the Belfast man without a dance partner.As it is, the Scot - who was stopped by James Tennyson at the SSE Arena in three rounds back in 2017 - is now the man who will answer the call in what is viewed as a keep-busy fight for Frampton who is expected to challenge WBO champion Jamel Herring next time out."I'm delighted to get an opponent over the line," said Frampton."I have to credit MTK Global for seeing there could have been issues with the original opponent getting into the country, and they have been paying Darren Traynor for a number of weeks to train."He'll be in decent shape and will be up for it as well. There is no pressure on him, but it is up to me to look good. I want to be taking this guy out and then moving on to think about Jamel Herring."I can't be complacent in the slightest. I know I'm the big favorite in the fight, but I want to win and want to look good, and I want to win by knockout."I feel like he's a better opponent as he's fought at a higher level than Vardanyan, and he's coming in at lightweight. I haven't made my debut at junior lightweight yet and I'm already jumping in at lightweight, so that's obviously a little bit in his favor, but I'm looking forward to not having to struggle at all in fight week and then putting on an explosive show."
Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship, Group OneO'Donovan Rossa 1-16St John's 0-20MICHAEL Bradley struck with the last poc of the ball to snatch victory for St John's over Rossa this afternoon.The visitors had trailed for most of this game and only got their noses in front deep into stoppage time before the game was levelled, but with the final act of the game, Bradley popped up to drill the ball over and help the Corrigan Park outfit to an opening win in this year's Senior Hurling Championship.This was a typically competitive game between these rivals with no quarter asked for or given and Rossa will look at this game somewhat frustrated they didn't take anything from it having delivered a good performance.However, they just couldn't keep their foot on the gas down the stretch as the Johnnies chipped away at a five-point deficit following the only goal of the game from Deaglan Murphy midway through the second period.Indeed, a four point lead at the break probably didn't reflect their dominance in the opening period and with the wind at their backs, St John's were able to make the required switched for the second half that ultimately turned the game their way.In fine sunshine and a wind blowing towards the Sarsfield's end, both sides tore into this game but were off-target with early chances before Rossa opened the scoring with Dominic McEnhill pointing on the turn.Conal Bohill replied at the other end, but Rossa were making the early running as they dominated the middle of the field, winning breaks and turning St John's over.This allowed them to create the chances and a pair of frees from James Connolly followed by excellent efforts from play by Michael Armstrong and McEnhill moved them four clear on 13 minutes.
Bathshack Antrim SHC, Group One: O’Donovan Rossa v St John’s (Sunday, Rossa Park, 2pm) WEST Belfast rivals Rossa and St John’s go head-to-head as the Antrim Senior Hurling Championship gets underway this weekend with a host of mouth-watering clashes.With the Dunloy hot favourites to top Group One, both Rossa and St John’s will be keen to make a winning start on Sunday.When these teams meet, all known form usually goes out the window – such is the way with keenly-contested derby games.This season, however, the formbook is pretty much non-existent.Colly Murphy will see his side in competitive action for the first time this season when they line out at Páirc Rossa on Sunday afternoon and he says the fact they had a bye when the leagues resumed last month hasn’t helped their cause.“It has been hard and it is always the same with a dual club – getting time with the guys to train and play friendlies and stuff,” said Murphy.“We don’t have the luxury that the likes of Loughgiel and Cushendall have.“We don’t know where we are, what level we are at and we didn’t have a league game last month.“We have nine dual players and they were in action last Sunday (against Lámh Dhearg) and most of them have two matches under their belt at this stage.“This will be our first competitive hurling game of 2020 on Sunday. I think they could have utilised the time given over the clubs a lot better.“You aren’t doing the club players any favours, especially the dual players.“I read last week semi-professional League of Ireland players are giving off about having to play four games in 11 days, but some of our players, who are amateur players, are playing four in 11 days including Championship games.“We have had to prepare as best as can without really knowing how we are going to fare as we haven’t played a competitive game.”While St John’s defeated Rossa in the group stages of last year’s Championship, they managed to claim a four-point win in the first round of the 2016 Championship, one year after claiming the All-Ireland Club Intermediate title.However, Murphy feels that Dunloy and St John’s are the favourites to finish first and second and thinks the game against Ballycastle could determine who qualifies for the quarter-finals in third place.“St John’s will fancy themselves and people who are neutral will probably see ourselves and Ballycastle in a battle to see who goes through in third,” added Murphy.“St John’s have been knocking on the door in recent years and have been pipped at the post in semi-finals by Cushendall and they would have aspirations of going further. We’ve no such aspirations at this moment in time, we are taking it game-by-game. If we get anything from this weekend’s game against St John’s, it will be a bonus.“St John’s have had a more settled team over the last few years and they would be favourites.“It should be a cracking game. Hopefully the weather holds and the pitch will be in good nick and it will suit both teams. Hopefully we get a good flowing, hard-hitting game.”While Murphy might be keen to downplay his sides chances of success, it is harder for his counterpart Michael Johnston to do the same.If any side is likely to break the North Antrim stranglehold on the Volunteer Cup this season, then St John’s are surely the mostly likely candidates.Over the last two seasons they’ve taken Cushendall to a replay in the Championship semi-final, only to be denied by the Ruairi Ógs.Last year in the drawn game at Ballycastle, they finally looked to have done enough to see off the challenge of Cushendall when Padraig Nugent converted a 65 in the fourth minute of injury-time to put the Johnnies up by one.Still, Cushendall came back and a last-gasp Fergus McCambridge point, which was originally ruled wide by the umpires, was deemed a point by referee Colum Cunning.Cushendall would go on to win the replay in Dunloy by four points before losing out to Gregory O’Kane’s side in the county final.Dunloy set the standard once again and are the team to beat in Group 1 and St John’s didn’t exactly made an ideal return to action when they suffered a surprise six-point loss to last year’s Intermediate champions Naomh Éanna last month.Despite that defeat at Hightown, Johnston feels the playing field has been levelled somewhat by the lack of hurling this summer.“At least we don’t have to travel too far on Sunday, so that’s a plus,” remarked Johnston.“There has been no real season so far – the season starts on Sunday for us.“I wouldn’t read too much into the St Enda’s game.“I don’t think anybody’s preparation leading into the Championship has been ideal to say the least.“For the year that it is, nobody is going to be at an advantage in any particular Championship.”St John’s, along with Rossa and Naomh Éanna, compete in Division One of both codes as well as both senior Championships while St Gall’s are also at senior Championship level in both hurling and football.The burden on dual players will come into sharp focus in the coming weeks as the new format of both Championships gets to the business end and managers across the board will be hoping their key players remain injury-free.Johnston is no different in that regard with his sons Ciaran and Conor being among 20 dual players at St John’s.“I don’t see duality as a burden to be honest. It is part and parcel of who we are,” said Johnston.“St John’s embrace duality and we’ve 20 players who play both codes.“There are guys who start on a regular basis for both teams and get a lot of the attention, but we’ve 20 players on both panels.“It is in the DNA of our clubs and lads coming through are encouraged to play both hurling and football.“Like every manager, you want to have a full panel to pick from and you need a panel with the run of games coming up. That goes back to your juvenile structure and whoever has the most talented players at their disposal at any given time.“The key for every time from here on in is trying to remain injury free.”With three teams qualifying for the knock-out stages, Sunday’s game isn’t the be all and end all for Rossa and St John’s.The top team in each group goes straight through to the semi-finals with the second and third-placed side qualifying for the quarter-finals.Yet, nether side will want to give an inch of ground in the Championship arena. St John’s didn’t field Simon Doherty, Conor Johnston or Michael Bradley against Naomh Éanna and are sweating on the fitness of a few established players for Sunday’s opener.Rossa have no such injury concerns with dual stars Michael Armstrong and Christopher McGuinness returning to action for the footballers in recent weeks.The Johnnies will rightly be fancied to start their campaign with a win, but if they aren’t at their best come Sunday, Rossa won’t need a second invitation to overcome their rivals.
Bathshack Antrim SHC Group Two; Naomh Éanna v St Gall’s (Sunday, Hightown, 2pm)
Morgan Fuels Down Senior Hurling Championship
ST JOSEPH'S GAC Glenavy have moved quickly to dismiss rumours that a playing member has tested positive for Covid-19.
NAOMH Éanna manager Frank Fitzsimons expressed his pride at seeing his side claim the notable scalp of St Gall’s at Milltown Row on Sunday afternoon - especially the manner of their victory. Trailing by six points midway through the second half, the Glengormley side looked to be chasing shadows as the home side played keep ball during a heavy downpour of rain.The second half water break came at the perfect time for the 2018 Intermediate champions and their pace was telling in the closing stages of the game. James McAuley, Odhran Eastwood, Peter and Kristian Healy fought for every break in the final quarter while Ruairi Scott’s stunning effort off the outside of the boot was good enough to win any game. This felt like a coming of age win for Naomh Éanna. For all the talk of St Gall’s being in transition, they are still laced with quality players who have multiple county titles to their credit. “It was a great boost to beat St Gall’s and they showed great character. “We capitalised when they went down to 14 men, but I always felt we’d plenty to give in the last 15 minutes. Our lads are very pacey and they’ve matured a lot. If you can’t get up to play St Gall’s, you may forget about it. “To be fair, St Gall’s always go out to play football against you so it was a good challenge for our boys.“When they (St Gall’s) get out in front, that’s when they show their class – they are so hard to peg back.“If they had have tagged on one or two more scores, it would have been that. St Gall’s will always try and score goals so, when you keep them to one goal, you’ve always a chance. “We’ve played them in league over the last few years and when they score a few goals against you, the heads go down - they are capable of putting up a massive score against you.”He added: “When you’ve players like James McAuley, Peter Healy, Kristian Healy, Eoin Nagle, (Odhran) Eastwood and boys like that, they’ve been playing together a long time. “Hopefully the run in the Intermediate will have helped them and we’ve a full panel to pick from at the minute. “I’ve been telling them over the last few years, they are fit to live with any team in Antrim - it is the consistency we need now."
KARATE enthusiasts throughout Ireland are eagerly anticipating a special four-day seminar with Irish karate ace Oliver Brunton next month.The lockdown period starved many of the opportunity to train with one of the world’s most skilled practitioners of the wado style of karate and the demand for Oliver’s instruction has risen dramatically.Oliver has studied this ancient art for almost 60 years and is well placed to guide others to grasp a deeper understanding of the skills required to become adept at karate.During his karate career Oliver has risen to the top of his field in different aspects of the art including refereeing, technical judging and instruction. He was both a referee and technical judge with the World Karate Federation and for 13 years served as secretary of its’ referee commission.Oliver also qualified as a technical examiner with the Japanese Karate Federation (JKF) and following a rigorous physical examination he passed the prestigious grade of seventh dan black belt with JKF.The Japanese Karate Federation were so impressed by his dedication and world-wide promotion of the wado style of karate they bestowed the prestigious title of Shu-Ha-Ri on the Belfast man.
Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship, Group TwoO'Donovan Rossa 1-9Lámh Dhearg 2-9FIRST half goals from Conor and Ryan Murray saw Lámh Dhearg take a firm grip on Group Two of the Antrim Senior Football Championship as they emerged three-points winners from Rossa Park today.
JAMES Tennyson added another title belt to his bulging collection as he blasted through Gavin Gwynne in six rounds to claim the vacant British lightweight strap at Matchroom's HQ.The West Belfast man showed patience and power, taking what the Welshman had to offer and coming back with much better to find the equaliser and take the Lonsdale Belt that completes a set of titles outside of world honours that is now in his sights.'The Assassin' lived up to his ring moniker, remaining cool as Gwynne tried everything to deter him, but ultimately Tennyson caught up with him, forcing the Merthyr Tydfil challenger to take a knee after landing a vicious right hook to the temple and whilst he did rise, the writing was on the wall and a trademark assault forced referee Phil Edwards to step in and wave the contest off with 30 seconds remaining in the round.The victory saw the 26 year-old Poleglass man improve to 27-3 with 23 wins now inside the distance to make up for his British featherweight title defeat to Ryan Walsh four years ago and send out a warning to the lightweight division that he means business."It means everything," he said after."Gav is a really tough lad and he gave a good account of himself, but I got him out of there early."I'm happy with my performance. He's a tough lad and it was a good fight."It's a shame there wasn't a crowd in there to back it up but it was great to get the win."Tennyson strode to the ring through the back garden of Matchroom's impressive estate to the strains of 'Run This Town Tonight' and that was clearly his objective as, under his fight as a fully-fledged member of Eddie Hearn's roster, he was intent on claiming the limelight.Gwynne, who had the height and reach advantage, began by popping out his long jab, but Tennyson was quick to close the distance, getting in range and unloading heavy hooks to head and body. Gwynne was happy to trade but a lot of his shots were blocked and there were early signs Tennyson's power was making a dent.In the second, Tennyson was again on the front foot with Gwynne backing off and finding a home for his jab, but he didn't have the power to deter Tennyson who got though with a big left uppercut. The Welshman retaliated with one of his own and had joy downstairs, but it was clear the heavy artillery of 'The Assassin' was starting to tell as there were glimpses that Gwynne's legs stiffened slightly.As expected, this all-action battle was highly entertaining with Gwynne starting the third off the jab, but the action quickly moved to the trenches. The pace was relentless with Gwynne matching Tennyson's aggression, but a right hand to the temple from the West Belfast man was the punch of the round as he began to pull away on the cards.Gwynne continued to be competitive and made his own case, but the better quality was coming from Tennyson who was blocking or evading most coming his way, whilst sinking in his own left and rights, varying his attacks. Tennyson was having to get through punches to land his own, but clearly wasn't deterred as he was always able to answer with better.
HAVING built his career quietly and methodically, overcoming adversity and triumphing against the odds on occasion, it seems the deck is now firmly stacked in favour of James Tennyson as he prepares to face Gavin Gwynne for the vacant British lightweigtht title tonight (Saturday, live on Sky Sports from 7pm).The 26-year-old may be coming into his prime, but has already had 29 professional contests, claiming Celtic, Irish (at two weights), WBA International (two weights), Commonwealth and European titles, fought for a world title and has now just inked a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Yet the feeling is there is much more to come from the Poleglass puncher who will look to complete the set of title belts outside of world honours against Gwynne, literally in the back garden of Matchroom HQ in Essex as part of the promotional organisation’s ‘Fight Camp’.The secret has long been out for local fight fans who have been well aware ‘The Assassin’ brings non-stop action, excitement and ferocious punching to the table having stopped 22 of his 26 victims, whilst he has also proven his heart by picking himself off the floor rebuilding after three career defeats: the first against unknown Pavels Senkovs at the Odyssey back in 2013 when just a pup; a British featherweight title defeat to Ryan Walsh when beyond struggling to make nine stone; and again struggling to make super-feather having matured physically over the years in that world title defeat to Tevin Farmer two years ago.Since making the switch up to lightweight, Tennyson has finally looked comfortable at the weight and the results back that up as he has stopped all four opponents at 135lbs leading into Saturday’s showdown against the Welshman.
McComb's Transport, Irish FA Intermediate Cup finalDollingstown 2Newington 0
WITH his seventh professional outing taking place behind the closed doors environs of the BT Sport Studios tonight (Friday), Caoimhin Agyarko-Hynes admits it may be a little surreal but the result will decisively be the same.The 23-year-old West Belfast man will tangle with Jez Smith in what will be his first 10-round contest, a testament to the progress he has made since turning over to the pro ranks in late 2018.This fight was initially due to be for his first title, but an opponent withdrawal has led to Smith (11-1-1) being drafted in. Whilst that may have been a little disappointing, the former Holy Trinity amateur is looking to the positives and hopes to deliver an impressive performance in this chief support bout that will draw a big TV audience.“It’s behind closed doors so it will be a bit unusual,” he admits.“I usually have a lot of family and friends who come over to support me, so this will be a bit different.“Still, I’m in there for a reason and regardless if there are fans there or not, there’s only going to be one outcome.“I would have loved to fight for a title on this show, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that I can fight for a title when fans can be there. Ideally, that’s what I would prefer as I’d like people there for my first title fight, hopefully in Belfast towards the end of the year even.”Lockdown rendered sparring opportunities obsolete for several months, but the gradual easing of restrictions coincided with ‘Black Thunder’s’ return to training camp when he got back down to business with his training team.This being his first fight scheduled for 10 saw tweaks in approach to prepare for the longer duration, but having yet to taste action in 2020, he intends to lay down a marker as his rush towards a first title fight continues apace.“It’s my first 10-rounder so camp has been a bit different but I’m looking forward to this challenge,” he confirmed.“It’s not that I’ve been fast-tracked, but I started off on a four-rounder, quickly moved to six, had one eight and now have been pushed into a 10-rounder.“This was due to be a title fight, but unfortunately, my opponent pulled out. This won’t be for a title now, but hopefully, we can get one by the end of the year or start of next year.“In lockdown, I wasn’t able to do any boxing training but as soon as I came over to camp, thankfully things eased up so I was able to spar.“It was tough at the start, but thankfully things eased up a bit and we have been able to train fully.”Smith has been out of action even longer having not boxed since losing a British Southern Arena welterweight title fight to Samuel Antwi.That reverse saw the Londoner forced onto the sidelines for the remainder of the year, but will view this as a prime opportunity to get his career back up and running.Hynes is aware that he faces an opponent who will offer him his sternest test to date but says he is ready and plans on delivering an eye-catching performance that will leave him with seven wins from seven and on the brink of big opportunities later in the year.“Jez Smith’s a good opponent and has only been beaten once so it is a step-up for me,” he stressed.“It’s a big opportunity for me as chief support in my first 10-rounder, so you can’t really ask for much more than that. It’s a chance for me to go in and make a big statement.“I’m looking to put on a big performance and push on from here. I know I have a test here on Friday, so I know I need to perform, get it out of the way and look to see what’s next.”
Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship, Group Four