“I’m a different boxer” – Aoife O’Rourke aiming for more following break-out 2018


Sporting a nasty-looking shiner, if you hadn’t seen the fight one would think that Aoife O’Rourke had just been in a war.

The Castlerea middleweight had just retained her Irish Under-22 middleweight title but the win came via first-round stoppage rather than after a gruelling contest.

Castlebar’s Renee Roche didn’t answer the bell for the second and the heavy-hitting O’Rourke was awarded the title and a chance to head to the European Under-22s in Russia in March where she will look to go one better than her sensational silver last year.

So, the black eye?

That was courtesy of younger sister, Lisa, herself a European Junior silver medallist, following one of their many sparring sessions at Castlerea BC.

“It was an elbow, it has to be said!” laughs proud coach Paddy Sharkey.

Reflecting on the fight with Roche, O’Rourke told Irish-Boxing.com that “it was so warm in there. We had a plan and I tried to stick to the plan as best as I could. Everything worked out, thank God.”

“I’ve been constantly working towards winning these again and now I’m looking forward to the European in Russia.”

A powerful, rangy middleweight, O’Rourke has really made the Irish middleweight spot her own in the absence of the long-term injured Christina Desmond.

Claiming Intermediate, U22, and Elite titles in quick succession, O’Rourke would win silver at the European U22s in Romania, ceding a walkover in the final following an injury.

Coming on leaps and bounds within the High Performance Unit, the Roscommon youngster would win multi-nations gold at the Nicolae Linca Golden Belt tournament before reaching the Last 16 at the World Championships in India.

Not bad for a late starter and she notes how “I was training in the High Performance there for a while and I learnt loads and I want to continue on this year.”

“I got silver [at the 2018 Euro U22s] but I’m a different boxer altogether now. It’s down to hard work and training and trying to learn everything.”

“I only took boxing up at an old age – 17 or 18. I only went for fitness and then I don’t know what happened! This fella,” she laughs, pointing at coach Sharkey.

While the 21-year-old is keeping her feet on the ground, 2019 is a massive year for Irish women’s boxing with European Games, European Championships, and World Championships along with the spectre of the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon.

It could be a very busy year for O’Rourke but she is refusing to look too far ahead.

She outlined how “I’m going to enter the Seniors next month so the next few weeks I’ll be focused on them then I’ll focus on the European Under-22s, and then… I’ll take one thing at a time!”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie