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Improved Shannon Sweeney ready for second Elite final following “big shock” last year

Last February, in what was her first fight at the Elite Senior Championships, Shannon Sweeney was given one of the toughest opening bouts imaginable.

Then just 18 years old, the Mayo youngster got a bye straight to the final and, in front of a busy National Stadium was faced with an in-form Kristina O’Hara.

The John Bosco fighter flew out of the traps and put on a punishing display, with the ambushed Sweeney – who showed big heart to make it out of the final round – being left bloodied and tearful at the conclusion.

A ‘baptism of fire’ doesn’t go far enough – however, rather than be demoralised, Sweeney was invigorated and enters this Saturday’s finals as one of the most improved Elite boxers in the country.

Boxing is everything for the St Anne’s Westport puncher who told Irish-Boxing.com that “I feel a lot more stronger, definitely, I’m doing a lot of strength training, training twice a day.”

“I go to college, I come home and train, it’s a lifestyle for me, it’s what I love and it’s what I want to do in the future.”

“I didn’t know anything about the Elites [last year] and then I went straight into the final and got a big shock. It was something different from my normal day!”

“I know what to expect now. ”

The skilfull Sweeney retained her Irish under-22 title last month and, in Saturday’s Elite semi-final, overcame touted Crumlin fighter Courtney Daly.

There was no room for celebrations following the three rounds, with Sweeney looking to build and improve straight away, analysing the fight with coach Martin Brennan.

“She was good, kept coming at me, which is not my usual style,” admitted the Connacht teen.

“It was probably my worst performance, there’s a lot of room for improvement definitely, but I got the win. That’s all you can do really, take the win and come back from it, learn from it.”

On Saturday the pure boxer will face Monkstown BC’s Carol Coughlan who overcame Megan Doyle in the corresponding semi just minutes later, a fight which Sweeney was watching intently.

Carlow fighter Couglan brings an aggressive, physically-imposing style to the ring, but Sweeney is confident of being able to handle such a fighter now 12 months on from the O’Hara experience.

She outlined how “I’m not used to that [style but, hey, we’ll make a game plan and stick to the gameplan. I’ll go in and do my best, that’s all I can do.”

“I just have to go with the flow, I’m very confident.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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