On the Friday evening before she joined the almost 30 strong Irish boxing squad to fly out to the European championships in Montesilvano in Italy, Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club member and Tralee native, Mary McDonagh was one of Fr. Mossie Brick’s Padre Pio devotees at Castleisland parish church.
Mary was there as a member of her family for Fr. Brick’s first devotions with a full congregation for over two years and, naturally, there was a lot of talk about Italy in the course of the evening.
She could be forgiven if Italy was very much in her own private thoughts that evening as the trip would be her first time abroad and her first in an Irish singlet to represent her country.
A Semi-Final War
As it happened, luck was on her side and the draw saw her as a cert for at least a bronze medal.
However, for the silver medal that followed, Mary faced into the battle of her young life and her fight against her Turkish opponent was described at ‘a semi-final war.’
“Both fighters let their hands go and, with little thought for defence, the more accurate and stronger, Sliabh Luachra fighter came out on top,” according to an Irish Boxing report from the venue in Italy.
McDonagh’s Snipper’s Touch
The report went on: “McDonagh showed that snipper’s touch and was more accurate with her work in the first two rounds. By the third, the Sliabh Luachra boxer’s punches had broken her opponent’s spirit and she was able to show more considered work.
“She held centre ring in the last round and, with her opponent wary of rushing in, she was able to show off a quality jab. There were still combinations and punches in bunches but just from further out, which in turn allowed the teen to show her accuracy en route to a wide unanimous decision win. Mary McDonagh will fight for Gold for Ireland on Tuesday.”
‘Katie Taylor – My Complete Hero’
Boxing is 15 year old Mary’s only sporting interest. She did dancing at school and at competitions for a while but boxing is everything to he now.
“I grew up watching boxing on the telly and I was about five years old when I saw Katie Taylor and that was it – she’s my complete hero,” said the girl who is now just a day away from a European Gold Medal at her 75kg weight and to becoming the best in Europe in her category.
‘I Want to Bring the Gold’
When I spoke to Mary at training recently in her Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club base in Castleisland – where she shares punch-bags and ring-time with European Silver medalist, Jamesie Casey – she was single-minded about her ambitions for the trip to Italy. “I want to bring home the gold,” she said.
I thought of Fr. Mossie Brick and Padre Pio when I read that Mary had earned her shot at a gold medal in Italy tomorrow and that they’d be in her corner and ‘wearing the geansai’ as she steps out for the fight of her life.
From what seasoned ring-siders wrote above about her semi-final bout and European debut, I wouldn’t like to be the one standing between her and her dreams of gold. Good Luck to you Mary.
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