‘The hunger is still there’ – Darren O’Neill Open to International Selection

Darren O’Neill still has the hunger and remains open to international selection.

The 36-year-old proved one of the stories of the 2021 National Elite Championships winning his eighth Elite title on the back of a four-year layoff.

The tournament victory and the circumstances around it cast the 2012 Olympian back into the spotlight – and he isn’t quite considering exiting stage left just yet.

The Paulstown cruiser understands his personal circumstances, as well as his age, may not make the most him appealing to the powers that be in the High Performance but he remains open to World Championship selection.

Indeed, the #1 at the weight who may prove a wise old head in what has the potential to be a relatively young selection, says the fire still burns.

“We’ll see. I’m getting on a bit. Life changes, I got married only a few weeks ago. I’ve a new job working with KPMG over the last couple of years, so priorities do change. But I have to say the hunger is still there and the itch is still there. You hear guys saying that they would never do again, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat,” O’Neill told TG4 after his latest Senior title win.

“The hunger never left. I always had that bit of an itch.”

O’Neill emerged from a pile that included one of the more exciting young Irish prospects in Kane Tucker and an emerging fighter Faolain Rahill, he also had to win two fights to claim his latest success.

As a result, it was an eyecatching win outside of the comeback and age narratives – and according to O’Neill, it was a win achieved without him performing at his best.

“I could feel myself falling over stupid shots and I got caught with stupid shots. I was doing things you wouldn’t usually do but I had enough experience to get through,” he adds before revealing the late notice of his entry.

“No one including myself was expecting me to be back here again.

“The week before the entry deadline day I was back home and I did a few rounds of pads with my dad and said ‘let’s put the name in’. He obviously felt it went ok because he said ok go for it.”

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