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Dervla Duffy enlists Steve Collins’s secret weapon in attempt to end Michaela Walsh hoodoo

Dervla Duffy is one of the trailblazers of Irish women’s boxing but has brought on board something of a secret weapon this year to try and overcome what has been her biggest obstacle.

Ever-present at the Elite Senior finals since they began back in 2010, the Monaghan featherweight has won a total of five Irish titles.

However, on four occasions she has fallen at the final hurdle, each time losing out to brilliant Belfast boxer Michaela Walsh.

Now in her tenth Seniors, Duffy has again reached the final. Her opponent? Michaela Walsh.

It’s a repeat of the 2018 decider (and the 2013, 2012, and 2011 finals) and Duffy is trying something a bit different this time.

Now training at Crumlin BC, Duffy has also linked up with Tony Quinn – the hypnotherapist that famously worked with Steve Collins ahead of the Chris Eubank fight over 20 years ago.

“I have a little bit of a different mindset than I would before,” she explains to ahead of the Walsh showdown.

“I’ve done a lot of work with Tony Quinn who was with Steve Collins for the Eubank fight and I feel that a lot of that has really mentally helped me in preparation.”

“It’s not ‘hypnosis’, it’s more of a mindset of getting out of the bad thoughts in your head that you are feeding energy to – they really aren’t there, you’re just making them up.”

“There’s a tactic to clear them so that you’re only focused on the job at hand – everything is very positive and the way you want the result to be and that’s just the way it is.”

“It’s sort of like mind programming… I’ve tried everything, I might as well try this!”

Duffy was speaking immediately after her win over young star Mary Geraghty and the 36-year-old noted how “I was a bit slow to start but once I got going I was a bit better.”

“I was a bit rushed getting into the ring, I thought I had a bit more time, so maybe I left it a bit late warming-up – so I was slow and hesitant starting but felt better as I went on.”

The Irish international and multiple Box Cup winner hopes to continue getting better into the Walsh fight and believes sharpness may be a factor against an opponent that has received a bye to the final..

Duffy explained how “tonight was a good warm-up whereas she is coming out of not having many fights lately. It’s a definite advantage, for your confidence, for your sharpness, for your fitness, for your ring craft, everything.”

“There were so many things there tonight that I did wrong now that have been pointed out and they’re either out of my system or I’m going to be grilled about over the next week.”


Now with giant Dublin club Crumlin having moved on from the relatively smaller Mulhuddart, Duffy notes how “a happy boxer is a dangerous boxer, I’m a lot happier there.”

“There’s a lot more sparring there, different spars at my weight, which I always found hard to find. It’s a huge club with a vast amount of boxers and it’s open morning and evening unlike most clubs. Phil Sutcliffe’s is a full-time stable and I love it.”

It’s all part of a final Olympic push from Duffy who has also linked-up with high performance strength and conditioning coach Karl Deegan.

With featherweight now part of the roster, the ‘mammy’ of the Irish team is determined to take her chance.

“I’m not afraid of the ‘O’ word, I love the ‘O’ word, I’ll talk Olympics all day!” she laughs.

“This is the last chance saloon for me, 2020. The next one, my age will be a problem [regarding eligibility], I know I look 16 but I’m actually not!”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: