Swords Boxing Club bantamweight Niamh Fay says family rivalry drove her on to win the European Youth title in Bulgaria this month.
The Ballyboughal native saw off the challenge of Croatia’s Nikolina Cacic on a split decision to lift the 54kg crown at the European Championships in Sofia.
The 17-year-old comes from good boxing stock – her dad, Gary Fay, is her trainer and a former Irish title-holder, while younger brother John won bronze at the Europeans last year.
And Niamh was able to pay back John’s good-natured ribbing about his success with interest when she managed to capture gold with a three-round victory.
“He was always slagging me that I’d gone to the Europeans twice without bringing home something,” Fay tells the Dublin Gazette.
“As soon as I won the bronze medal, the first thing I said to him was ‘I’ve matched you now’. Then, when I got into the finals he goes: ‘I’ll never hear the end of it,’ and he was dead right,” she jokes.
Fay, who started out at Bracken Boxing Club in Balbriggan before moving with her dad when he took over at Swords, had a personal score to settle at the championships as well.
She faced Italian Sharon Prisco in the first round and, having been bested by her opponent in sparring in Edenderry in the past, was determined to right that wrong in her own mind.
“The Italian, which was my first fight, I think she was the hardest. You need to get that one fight under your belt to let the fights flow.
“Going into the final, I was confident after winning my other three fights. The pressure was gone and I forgot I was in the final and enjoyed my boxing.
“[Prisco] was the hardest – she was running away from me and kept me close in grabs. I was sparring with her previously in Edenderry and she did get the better of me, so that was in my head as well.”
Fay, who feels the pro ranks would suit her style better than the amateur game as she progresses, will have a short break before preparing for the Europeans and Worlds early next year.
“I’m taking a two-week break. Then in January I’m going to have to try and get a spot in the Irish team again.
“[To compete in] the Olympics would be something, but I think pro would be better.
“As the rounds go on, I think I get better and my fitness is something that stands for me.”