Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh will be reunited when Tidal Bay tackles the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday. Press Association Walsh became available after his intended mount, the Willie Mullins-trained Rubi Ball, was a surprising absentee from the five-day declarations for the Grade One feature, returning lame from a schooling session at Punchestown. With Boston Bob, owned like Tidal Bay by Graham Wylie, also taken out, Mullins was left without a runner and Walsh was suddenly hot property. His former boss Nicholls, who until this season had shared Walsh’s services with Mullins, was first to snap him up for the veteran Tidal Bay. The 13-year-old ran a blinder in the Welsh Grand National to show he has lost none of his ability and on his only previous visit to Leopardstown he won the Lexus Chase. “We’ve decided to go to Ireland with Tidal. It’s a small field, good prize money, he’s one from one at the track and he’ll get his ground. Of course Ruby being available also helps, so it has worked out for us. Mr Wylie will have some other runners on the card as well so it made sense to run really,” said Nicholls.
Fitzpatrick said: “I’m young but it doesn’t mean anything. Paddy and Michael have helped me big time and you will see the best from me on Saturday night.” Michaela Walsh moved through to face Olympic champion Nicola Adams in the women’s flyweight final. The Belfast 21-year-old came through against tough Indian Pinki Rani, edging the final two rounds with her cleaner, counter-punching style in order to make sure on the scorecards. Walsh said: “Months ago I said my dream was to fight Nicola Adams in the Commonwealth final and when I go to bed tonight I will dream of that gold medal hanging round my neck. “I know if I perform to the best of my ability I can beat her. She is the golden girl and I’m only a baby but in the ring it’s a different story.” Northern Ireland light-welterweight Sean Duffy was outpointed by Junias Jonas and light-heavyweight Sean McGlinchy also lost on points to David Nyika of New Zealand. Welterweight Steven Donnelly looked unlucky to drop a split decision to Mandeep Jangra of India, and middleweight Connor Coyle was beaten by India’s Vijender (crrct) at middleweight. Alannah Audley-Murphy was outpointed by Australia’s Shelley Watts in the women’s lightweight division, leaving Northern Ireland with four finalists and five definite bronze medals. Barnes breezed into his second consecutive light-flyweight final with a unanimous decision win over Uganda’s Fazil Kaggwa. But earlier in the day he watched his friend Michael Conlan scrape through against Welshman Sean McGoldrick on a technical decision after sustaining a bad cut over his right eye from an accidental headbutt. Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes believes the sport’s world governing body will vote to bring back headguards after a Commonwealth Games campaign marred by a series of high-profile cuts. And Northern Ireland lightweight Joe Fitzpatrick also required treatment to a gash beneath his left eye after a straightforward win over Michael Alexander of Trinidad. Conlan in particular now faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s bantamweight final against England’s Qais Ashfaq, and Barnes believes a U-turn on the decision is inevitable. Barnes said: “I think headguards will be back. It’s great to see them off because it’s better to watch, but it’s impossible to fight so many times in so few days without headguards on – it’s ridiculous.” Conlan, who also suffered a cut to the top of his head in his first round win over Matthew Martin, is convinced he will be able to compete in the final. “I felt the cut straight away but it was cleaned up well by the doctor and I will be in the ring tomorrow,” Conlan said. “I’ve never been cut on the face or the head in my life until this tournament so it’s a bit unfortunate, but I’ve had it glued and it will be okay. “I was happy with the way I boxed before it was stopped and I am just happy to be in the final. Tomorrow is going to be a golden day.” The 19-year-old Fitzpatrick produced another composed performance to see off Alexander and book a final against Scotland’s Charlie Flynn. Press Association