The National Girl 11 to 16 years All Ireland championship Finals got underway last Friday 4th May. These are held annually in Dublin’s National Stadium and feature the Champions of the four traditional provinces plus the IABA’s other two ‘units’ of Antrim and Dublin. Since female boxing’s inclusion in amateur boxing in 2005, Mayo has had a strong national influence and judging by the start our girls have made this weekend that precedent looks well set to continue.
Charlestown Boxing Club’s steely Keely Steven’s (Girl 11, 27kg) might be one of the youngest and is certainly the smallest representing the county but her Semi-final performance was very big on every level. She was up against a well fancied Leinster champion who’d also lifted the prestigious Michael Andrews title at the weight earlier in the year. Both girls boxed beyond their years but Keeley was clearly enjoying the occasion, being the one obviously most comfortable under the big lights and she gave a text book example of boxing fundamentals at their best. Her rapier like jab, slipping and movement were a delight to behold and she well deserved to advance to the final where she’ll meet the Munster champion.
Knockmore/Foxford’s Kelsey Langan is another Girl 11 that was engaged in Friday’s Semi-finals. Despite her tender years her tenacity has impressed in the county for some time and she certainly didn’t disappoint in Dublin. On the face of it her Antrim opponent had the advantages of height and range but that was never going to be enough to stop the onslaught that Langan brought to bear. Such was Kelsey’s dominance that the proceedings could arguably have been brought to an end early but credit her opponent for managing to go the three rounds. Langan advances to the Girl 11, 39kg final and on this showing will be very hard to beat.
Aglish B.C.’s Natalia Fasciszewska was one of the busier boxers over the weekend. On Friday she was slated to box a Girl 13 quarter-final and at stake was an appointment in Saturday’s Semi’s. Natalia is a defending National Champion and by any reckoning one of Mayo’s most gifted young prospects. She possesses that long rangey style that mesmerises and confuses opponents and so usually ensures her hand is raised. So it was this weekend and after two seemingly comfortable wins the gifted Aglish girl advances to the Girl 13, 51kg final.
Ballyhaunis' young stand-out Carlagh Mullarney was first up for Mayo on Saturday morning’s Semi-finals bill. The 35kg, Girl 12 was crowned All Ireland champion last year and judging by this contest, or what little Carlagh allowed of it, she looks an absolute certainty to successfully defend. Proceedings were halted after just twelve one sided seconds of the first bell when Carlagh bruised and then cruised into the final.
Of course there are two sides in sport and defeat is something our boxers literally have to take on the chin. Spare a thought then for Achill’s Aine Curtis, Ardnaree’s Kirsten Moyles and Ardagh/Crossmolina’s Sophie Keavney who bowed out with distinction this time. Hopefully we’ll see them back, better for the experience gained, next year. These championships are scheduled to continue for the next month with Mayo heavily represented and boxers from Achill, Ardnaree, Aglish, Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Charlestown, Geesala, St. Anne’s, Eagle, and Ardagh/Crossmolina set to make appearances.