The East Belfast flyweight claimed silver at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year but her finals defeat to Cavan’s Céire Smth in the last Ulsters had niggled at her.
There was no way that the Holy Trinity fighter was going to be beaten this time and, looking better than ever, McNaul broke down young star Caitlin Fryers to claim 51kg top honours at the Ulster Hall and finally win a provincial title in the ring.
Ulster Elite Championships
Carly McNaul claims victory at the Ulster Hall
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) January 19, 2019
Afterwards an overjoyed McNaul said that “I’m just so happy, so I am.”
“I’m over the moon to get the win,” she beamed before reflecting on the entertaining clash with former underage star Fryers.
McNaul described how “it was a really good fight, good, hard pace. Caitlin is a very good boxer with a bright future ahead of her but I was just that bit older and stronger.”
“She’s moving up to that weight whereas I’ve come down from 60 kilo to that weight.”
Strength did seem a crucial factor and McNaul credited her high-quality preparations which included sparring with double Olympic bronze medallist and world title challenger Paddy Barnes as well as High Performance lessons learnt from the Commonwealth Games.
She explained how “[Paddy Barnes] is a brilliant sparring partner, he likes to come and put a lot of pressure on so you really have to work.”
“I learnt a lot from the Commonwealth training camp, how to control and get my diet right, how to make weight better.”
“It was good to go into that fight knowing I was fit and had enough to keep going when I could see that she was tiring.”
While the Ulster title obviously meant a lot to the 29-year-old, McNaul is eager to build on her international experiences this year.
The Belfast fighter is keen to become the number one in Ireland and move into contention for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
There is plenty of competition, from the likes of Lauren Hogan, rapidly-improving youngsters such as Fryers and Niamh Earley, as well as old rival Smith.
McNaul, though, is confident and stated that “this is my time.”
“I’m going to go to the all-Irelands, qualify for the Olympics, and get gold at the Olympics, that’s my aim.”