The battle to battle – Elite Champ Grainne Walsh was one punch away from retirement

Grainne Walsh had enough of disappointments and setbacks, so was never going to miss her chance to become an Irish Champion again.

The Spartan’s fighter rebounded from years of injury woes to win one of the toughest weight divisions in this year’s National Elite Championships last Saturday.

To claim victory at 66kg, an Olympic weight, the 27-year-old had to overcome 63kg sensation Amy Broadhurst in an eagerly anticipated final.

The determined Offally native did just that via one of the best displays the home of Irish boxing has seen in some time.

Speaking after her win a delighted Walsh revealed the extent of the fight to get into the ring to fight and having to battle so hard to get back she was determined not to lose the important battle.

“I’ve been on a rollercoaster of a journey,” she said.

“I’ve had three fights in three years, so I had a lot of ground to make up considering Amy’s form last year, but I just knew I was superior at this weight.

“I have nothing but respect for her, but I just knew going into the ring that this was my time and nobody was going to take it away from me. I had four operations on my right thumb and then, this is completely under the radar but four weeks ago I had surgery on my little toe because I dropped a dumbbell on it. I didn’t want to say anything out of fear someone might stand on it!”

While her toe was a concern in recent weeks, Walsh’s thumb has been the issue in recent years. It got to the stage where she was told she was one punch away from having to hang up her gloves.

“We had an amazing surgeon up in Belfast, but after so many injuries he did tell me I was one punch away from retirement.

“So there was that fear factor, and at 27 years of age I had to change things, stop throwing some shots which would have made my hand vulnerable. But it all came to fruition there at the perfect time.

The European Games medalist is determined to ensure the comeback story doesn’t end with Saturday’s win, which played out in front of High Performance coaches Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Damian Kennedy and Eoin Pluck.

It appears the fighter who had a torrid time with injuries over the last three years seems to have Olympic ambitions.

“This means the world to me. It puts us in a great place, and it’s going to take something big to take that spot away from me after everything I’ve been through,” said Walsh.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail but I want to be back in a place where I’m respected. People now know I’m a serious contender.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com