Sky is the limit for golden girl Daina
Mary Fogarty meets the 15-year-old Bray schoolgirl who is now a European boxing champion
Daina Moorehouse didn't become a European Gold medallist out of nowhere. In her Junior Cert year, the 15-year old has been up before six every morning to run eight kilometres before school.
On Sunday, the Bray boxer won the European Youth Boxing Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
At 15, Daina was one of the youngest members of Team Ireland. She was nonetheless selected as team captain for the championships.
The rising star of boxing is a resident of the Heatherwood estate off the Boghall Road in Bray. She has just completed her Junior Cert at St Kilian's Community School. Her proud parents Melissa and John joined her in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She defeated Ukranian champion Viktoria Fabuliak last Thursday in the quarter final. On Saturday, Daina faced Russia's Diana Ermakora and secured her place in the final.
On Sunday she defeated England's Simran Kaur in the final.
As well as Daina's parents, her coach Paul O'Toole celebrated with her in Bulgaria. He has trained the Bray girl since she started boxing five years ago.
'Daina has had a remarkable season, not dropping a single round in all competitions this year and is a credit to her club, county and country. The sky is the limit for her now,' said Eamonn Carr of Enniskerry Boxing Club.
'Enniskerry Boxing Club is so proud of Daina,' said the club following her victory. 'She won all of her fights unanimously in Bulgaria and her incredible hard work has paid off. We are so happy for Paul who worked tirelessly with Daina.'
They said that it was a proud day for her family, the club and the Irish team for the athlete to have captained her country and taken home gold.
At home in Bray yesterday (Tuesday), Daina was settling in again after returning from Bulgaria.
'I was over the moon,' she said on winning the final. 'It took some time for it to sink in.'
She described a gruelling training regime prior to the competition.
'I was up at six in the morning and training that night from seven to nine. It was tough training, but it was still worth it,' she said.
She worked hard and took on her exams as well as her schedule with Enniskerry Boxing Club and the High Performance Unit. The Junior Cert wasn't as hard as it was made out to be, she said.
She fell into boxing by accident, coming along to collect her brother Michael from training five years ago. She took to it straight away. 'Over the years I began to love it,' said Daina.
She had made great friends in the club, and on the Irish team. Her friends from school have been sending messages of congratulations, and she will spend time with some of them over the coming weeks. Paul has given her some time off before they get back to training. She's been on the go for months, if not years.
'She had no break really,' said Paul. 'She's had the Leinster championships, the Irish championships, then we had the cadet championships, and she's boxed for Ireland. She's a busy girl and she has earned her time off.'
They do have their eye on the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, but for now it's one step at a time. The youth Olympics will take place next year, and before that the Leinsters, Irish and Cadets. Daina is too young for the World Championships in the coming year.
She'll be back in High Performance training in three weeks.
'She's worked unbelieveably hard,' said Paul.
'She's a very talented young girl. She has it all. She's a very good girl for listening and she does what she's told.'
They work well together and you can see the mutual respect that Daina and Paul have for one another.
Dad John is a very proud father, and her mother Melissa said that they were both thrilled when she took gold in Bulgaria.
'Any time she's in the ring, that's all that's in your head - oh God, make her win,' said Melissa. 'She gives it her best shot every time. She loves it and she's so dedicated. Her coach Paul is brilliant with her. He puts a lot into Daina and she puts a lot into him. The two of them are great together.'
Her parents thought when she took up boxing it was a great past-time for her, they never thought she would become such an athlete so young. 'As she progressed over the years she just became really good. We were just amazed. She started winning everything, and it brought her to the Europeans.
Daina's father John was a boxer and her brother Michael boxes in the same club. He was out for a time due to a shoulder injury. Michael also plays football and is just back from Barcelona with Ardmore Rovers.
Five years ago when Daina walked into Enniskerry Boxing Club she was, as Paul O'Toole describes, 'a tiny little thing'.
'Everyone knew from the first night she had a spark, she had that footwork. She was always there and never missed training. She's just an amazing young girl, I'm so proud of her.'
Daina's granny Margaret Fitzpatrick said that Daina is 'just brilliant' and that she's a lovely young girl who always has a nice manner and never grumbles. 'She's worked very hard,' said Margaret, who was visiting along with Daina's cousin Becky Wilson.
'I think she's going to go far, I really do.'