The Cork fighter, an EU bronze and World silver medalist at youth level, made the step up to the High Performance Team and made a name for herself on the international scene when she scored a shock win over Dutch star Nouchka Fontijn, the eventual silver medalist in Rio.
Now 20 year old Desmond is looking to enhance her reputation further at the World University Championships in Thailand. Here the Leesider will be part of a record-sized five-strong Irish team alongside Céire Smith, Gary McKenna, Conor Wallace, and Kenny Okungbowa.
Ahead of the tournament in Chang Mai, Desmond spoke to Irish-Boxing.com and pin-pointed the victory over Fontijn as a major validation of her talents
“It was a huge achievement for me,” the Fr Horgans BC fighter explained. “I was a nobody in the senior World so it gave me a huge confidence boost, just what I needed at the time!”
“It really proved to everyone – especially myself – that I deserved to be there representing my country.”
A decorated underage star, Desmond travels to South East Asia “hoping this will be my first medal at senior level. At 20 it would be a great start to my season.”
“Obviously you go into every competition with your sights set on gold – Like all athletes. This competition is no different. I would love to bring home gold.”
Currently starting her third year as a Sports Strength and Conditioning student at Limerick Institute of Technology, Desmond jokes how “I have no idea where the time has gone. Its only like yesterday since I started in first year.”
The Rebelette is grateful for the support she has received from the college, and described how “LIT are good to help and helped me through a lot last year when I was mainly boxing in the High Performance. I am hoping to get there continued support now as I go back training with the Irish Team.”
“It is very hard to try and go to college, train, eat right and study but I have a great family who helps me out in anyway they can.”
Desmond would like to see elite-level boxing, Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, become more prominent at collegiate level. She recalled how “I found myself when I was going through colleges in 6th year all they cared about was GAA etc. As boxing is classed as a ‘lower class’ sport I feel more has to be done to get it through colleges and schools across Ireland. ”
“I think colleges around Ireland need to back more sports through there scholarship programmes.”
Despite her obvious talents, Desmond knows that boxing is no sure thing and believes education is essential in the long term. The Munster woman outlined how “the way I look at it is – I can train and box all day everyday, hoping to pay my bills and make a bit of money as I do so but what happens if I get injured, someone else gets picked before me or even when I retire? What will I fall back on? Any qualification will do, just you need some kind of back up plan when nothing else works out.”