St Mary’s Boxing Club celebrate trio of champs

by Dave Donnelly
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St Mary's Boxing Club's Kellie Harrington and George Bates were crowned national champions once again

St Mary’s Boxing Club celebrated the biggest day in the club’s history on Saturday when their fighters picked up three gold medals at the National Elite Championships in Dublin.

The Tallaght club saw Kellie Harrington and George Bates win finals at 60kg level in women’s and men’s respectively, while Aoife Burke was given a walkover in the 75kg final.

28-year-old Harrington made it an incredible eight national titles as she comfortably overcame Dundalk’s Amy Broadhurst.

Fourth time was the charm for 24-year-old Bates, who beat Ballina’s Francis Cleary by unanimous decision after falling at the final hurdle on three previous occasions. In one of the fights of the night, Bates outfight the Mayo slugger before the fight was prematurely cut short due to a laceration about Bates’ right eye.

Burke had been due to fight the reigning champion, Christina Desmond of Cork, but the Macroom southpaw had to pull out due to a leg injury.

“It’s a very proud occasion for the club to have three senior champions,” said the team’s head coach, Noel Burke.

“It hasn’t been done before by us. I wouldn’t say too many clubs have actually done it in history. We’re very proud. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s been a long time coming.

“It’s a testament to the coaching we’ve put in over the years and to the boxers themselves. An amazing amount of hard work has gone in over the years to achieve what we’ve achieved.”

Harrington’s incredible achievement further confirms her dominance of her weight class in Ireland – calling into question its continued non-inclusion at the Olympics.

“[Kellie] is one of the most professional boxers I’ve ever worked with. She doesn’t leave anything to chance as regards her diet, preparation.

“There’s nothing left out there – there’s nothing under question. Every box is ticked going in there.

“As she’s gone on in her career as a boxer, she’s demanded more of herself and everybody around her, and she still seems to be improving, which is a great sign.”

Coach Burke revealed fighter Aoife – his niece – was distraught after learning she wouldn’t be able to win her first national title in the ring.

“I have to say I’ve never seen Aoife so upset in my life, because she’s worked so hard for this and she really wanted to give a display of what she’s about.

“It was her first time to enter senior elite competition. She’d won every underage event and was really looking forward to winning this in the right way. She was inconsolable.”

The trio will now travel with the Irish team to the United States on March 8 where they’ll take part in a three-fight tour.

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