This week, the best youth boxers in Ireland returned to training with strength and determination in the aftermath of the Irish Open Youth Finals which gave an admirable insight in to the future of Irish boxing. This week’s Unsung Hero therefore, goes to our home-grown Irish youth boxers.
When Katie Taylor stunned the world in the London Olympics in 2012, the world of Irish boxing as a whole, was given huge respect internationally due to the displays that Bray’s wonder girl gave on her way to gaining Olympic gold. As our current Irish, European, World and Olympic champion in the 60kg division, she has become the face of Irish boxing in recent times. While many give much attention and respect to Katie, which I stress is entirely deserved, it is easy to forget all the other achievers in the world of Irish boxing.
Arguably the most admirable of these are the Irish youths, who even though they are only in their teens, are showing absolutely stunning quality and determination in the sport they love the most. The National Open Youth Championships in Dublin, in which the IABA are using to determine selection’s for the 2014 World Championships in Sofia, ran over three weekends, the finals of which took place on Friday the 24th in National Stadium. No less than ten male finals and three female finals were contested, each one as exciting as the last. The youths who took part in the finals embraced the very nature of competition, with some underdogs giving huge performances against esteemed champions. World and European champions like Kristina O’Hara, Gary Cully and Ciara Ginty took part in spectacular fights against impressive underdogs such as Lauren Hogan, Conor Walsh, and Cheyanne O’ Neill, showing the true excitement and constantly developing nature of Irish boxing.
Even despite such an intense and draining tournament taking place little over a week ago, the participants from all over the country returned to training this week with as much determination and ferocity as ever before. The youths from Donegal to Tramore, from Macroom to Cavan, to all over the country, returned to their clubs this week to massive support from local communities and a lot to build upon in to the future. It has been noticeable for all clubs involved, that the youths in the spotlight over the past couple of weeks are showing unbelievable promise, and have all proved themselves to be prospects to watch for the future.
In recent years, we have seen how much Irish boxing has developed, with the likes of Katie Taylor, Kenneth Egan, Paddy Barnes and more all becoming household names. Heading in to the next Olympics in 2016, there is no denying that Irish boxing may certainly be set to impress again. It may even be a more long term prospect in to the Olympics of 2020 due to the current age of some very impressive young boxers. Either way, it is a fact that Irish boxing is heading in the right direction and is building upon the successes of our already established boxing icons. Boxing has always been a huge part of sport in Ireland, and it is without doubt that this will continue long in to the future.
The next chance to see some young Irish prospects will be Munster Boys and Youths Championships in the Cashen Vale Boxing Club in Ballybunion this March. Anyone who has any interest in boxing, young or old, should keep a keen eye of tournaments such as this all over the country, as you can nearly guarantee you will see a star or two in the making.
Pundit Arena, Eoin Lyons.