The 28-year-old feared the worst when Céire Smith defeated her in the Ulster Elite Seniors final in late November.
Cavan flyweight Smith returned to the scene with an impressive victory over her Belfast counterpart, threatening to derail McNaul’s Commonwealth Games dream.
However, McNaul was need not have worried as, with Smith being ineligible for the Games, she was picked.
The Ormeau Road fighter won her first National Elite title in 2017, represented Ireland in the EU Championships, and has been improving since teaming up the High Performance set up.
With Smith out of play, McNaul had established herself as the leading flyweight on the island and is delighted her 2017 form was rewarded rather than being punished for what she claims was a November off day.
“I am buzzing I can’t wait to go. It’s a dream come true! 14 years it has taken me to get here and now I’m finally here,” an excited McNaul told Irish-Boxing.com.
“When I got beat in the Ulsters I thought that was it for me even though that night in the ring I wasn’t even a quarter of myself.”
“Thankfully the coaches didn’t go on that performance and anyone who knows me and has seen me box before knew there was something up.”
There is a real sense McNaul feels she is finally getting rewarded for years of dedication to a gruelling sport, but despite achieving a long-term ambition the 51kger isn’t just content with being on the plane to Australia.
“My goal when I get out there is to put in the performance of my life in every fight and fight my way to that gold medal.”
“I don’t know anyone in my weight class. I’m not worried, I don’t think about who I’m against I know with the training I am doing – it’s the hardest and best I’ve ever done in my life. I’ll be ready to take on anyone.”
Most of McNaul’s Commonwealth team have expressed Tokyo 2020 aspirations, but the Senior Champion suggest she might explore pro options upon returning from Australia.
“With my age, I’ll maybe think about turning pro after the games,” she concluded as camp continues for the tournament in April.
*Clarification: This piece was initially published stating that McNaul was chosen ahead of Smith. This is incorrect as Smith, born in the Republic of Ireland, is ineligible for the Commonwealth Games.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)