ONE of Ireland's brightest young sporting talents did her parish and county proud recently by bringing a national boxing title back home to West Kerry for the second year running.
Castlegregory boxer Marie McCarthy (13) proved her worthiness as one of the country's top ranking competitors by establishing her dominance in the 54kg (Girl 3 1998-1999) division in Dublin's National Stadium on May 4 when she retained her title, beating Sharon Stokes (Drogheda) and Alexandria Keane (Crumlin) en-route to her second All-Ireland title.
This softly spoken and modest teenager certainly packs a punch (her recent title fight in the National Stadium had to be stopped for the sake of her competitor) and Marie has already been likened to Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor.
Indeed, she is already being touted as an Olympic hopeful in 2020.
Marie, a first year student at Castlegregory's Meánscoil Nua an Leith-Triúigh, who trains with Noely and Tommy Kelliher in Tralee Boxing Club, is taking it all in her stride, however, and she is keen to keep the head down and get on with her training over the summer months.
Marie's parents, Tommy and Ann, are also very supportive of her endeavours, attending her fights around the county, province and at national level.
Speaking this week, as her fellow classmates joined her in celebrating her recent success, Marie explained the importance of adhering to a strict training regime. "I train for six days a week and diet is important – no sugar, chocolate or sweets are allowed," she said with a wry smile.
"There will be tournaments coming up over the summer so I'll be training for those."
Marie cites Katie Taylor as an inspiration in taking up boxing but for now the multi-discipline athlete – who also plays spike ball, football and a number of other sports in her spare time - is taking one day at a time.
Marie will also be put to the test in the upcoming Tralee Boxing Tournament (being hosted in aid of the Children's Medical & Research Foundation of Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin) at the Brandon Hotel, Tralee on May 25. Tickets are available at Der O'Sullivan's Deli, The Mall, or by contacting 087-6415389.