‘Mama Bear’ Dervla Duffy confident of claiming European medal

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The Irish team that heads out to Bulgaria for the European Championships next week is a blend of youth and experience.

On one end there is the likes of 20 year old Lauren Hogan, while at the other there is the nominated mother of the team, Mulhuddart Boxing Academy’s Dervla Duffy.

At 33 years old, Duffy is the eldest member of the seven woman Irish squad, and the Monaghan woman enjoys being the wise head of the side.

Speaking to Irish-Boxing.com, Duffy explained that “at the last major championship in Kazakhstan [Worlds], I was crowned ‘Mama Bear'”

“I took one of the younger girls under my wing and roomed with her, helped her with her weight management.”

“I guess you could say yes I do feel I should look out for the less experienced and younger boxers and I do enjoy it so it comes naturally.”

“The whole team have a great bond so we all look out for each other.”

However, Duffy isn’t going to Sofia for moral support, and enters the tournament in good form. She confidently states that “I want to perform to the level I’m capable of and bring back a medal. My club coach Ger McDaid has put a lot of work into me in the last few months and I got two more nice wins under my belt in Esker [Box Cup] recently against two international boxers and also won the best Senior boxer award.”

“I felt the improvements in the ring, and if I perform as well as that in Bulgaria I’ll medal for sure!”

A dedicated trainer, Duffy has spent some time recently in Paschal Collins’s Celtic Warriors Gym. The Kildare-based fighter believes that the experience gained in the pro environment will stand to her when it comes to dealing with a varied field of opponents. She described how “I’ve had a few great sessions in the Celtic Warriors Gym, I think various types of sparring and training will always stand to you as so many opponents out there now have completely different styles.”

“I really enjoyed training there and always made feel welcome, The gym has a great atmosphere and always very busy which Is the environment I love to be training in, plus I picked up some great advice from Paschal Collins while there, I’ll definitely continue to train there and go up to spar some of the guys in the near future.”

For these Europeans, and the Worlds earlier in the year, the Irish women’s have spent time training at the Sheffield Institute of Sport. Duffy is thankful of the increased backing the team has gotten recently, and grateful for sparring with top females, but admits that there is still a chasm between Ireland and some other major boxing nations. Duffy described how “last week was a tough week but a great opportunity to see where you’re at against other top females. I usually spar guys most the time so it can be difficult to judge your performance until you’re back in the ring with an experienced girl again .”

“I do think the IABA are trying to do more for the women’s boxing team than in previous years, but watching how the GB girls train, on a full-time basis, and the facilities they have 24/7: physios, nutritionists, various coaches, etc – we still have a long way to go.”

A gulf in resources doesn’t bother Duffy however, and she concludes by saying that “…sometimes it just comes down to how bad you want it.”

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