Bronze for Fay in Europe
John Fay's relentless pursuit of success was rewarded at the European Schoolboy Championships in Bulgaria last week when the Swords clubman gained a much-coveted bronze medal for reaching the semi-finals.
Ballyboughal native John, whose elder sister Niamh has won numerous Irish titles over the years, won his first two bouts against opponents from Lithuania and Belarus and that set up a clash with England's Matthew Knipe for a place in the European decider at 54kg.
There was disappointment for Tommy Lee McAteer who lost his opening bout to a Ukrainian opponent, so all eyes were on Fay as he prepared to square up to Knipe, from the Moss Side club in Manchester.
The Swords camp knew that Knipe likes to box at length and so Fay's tactics were to put pressure on the Englishman and not give him time to think.
This seemed to work well as he landed backhands and left hooks, while Knipe boxed on the back foot and relied on his jab.
There was little to separate them in that opening round, but round two was certainly Fay's best as he pushed his opponent back and landed jabs and backhands, forcing Knipe to hold on for dear life.
In the third and final round both boxers' guards were lower as they chased victory and there were some big shots. Fay landed a heavy backhand and hook to Knipe's head, while the Englishman unleashed a meaty backhand shot.
At the end neither corner would have been sure which way the judges would call it, but in fact the officials were unanimous in awarding a narrow victory to Knipe, leaving Fay to settle for a bronze medal.
It was a proud moment for John's dad and coach Garry Fay who remarked: 'One year ago he lost in an All-Ireland final, but since then he's worked hard.
'Before Christmas he won the Louth Championship, Wexford International Box Cup and Dublin League, and since then he's won the Dublin, All-Ireland and National Cadets championships - and now a bronze medal at the Europeans.'
Adding his congratulations, chairman and founder member of Swords BC, Nicky Callaghan, said: 'Our committee have worked hard over the years to get a new premises so that the kids of Swords and surrounding areas could be given a good opportunity in boxing.
'To see two young lads, Tommy and John, go out to represent their country is great for us, and to see John win bronze in our first year in our new premises makes the work all worth it.
'And thanks to Clare Daly, councillors, Fingal County Council and the local gardai who helped us to get here.'