BREANNA Johnston’s ‘Golden Girls’ title was the highlight as Tredagh Boxing Academy members enjoyed a memorable weekend in both Sweden and Manchester.
Breanna and fellow All-Ireland champion Grace Conway both travelled to the prestigious Golden Girls Championships in the Swedish city of Boras where they trained on the Friday night and Grace also had a tough three-round spar with current Irish champion Tiffany Spencer.
On the Saturday Breanna gave a masterclass performance to defeat Denmark’s Viola Latifi by unanimous decision in their Championship semi-final.
Grace had a straight final against Faith Barrass from England on the Sunday and the Tredagh coaches felt round one was clearly won by their boxer as she caught her opponent throughout the round with popping jabs and beautifully timed backhand crosses, polished off with lead-hand hooks.
There was more urgency from Barrass in the second round, but again Grace seemed to be landing the better shots and her corner felt it was another round in the bag.
In round three the English girl looked intent on trying to knock Gracie out, perhaps feeling it was her only chance of winning, but the All-Ireland champion responded with perfectly timed counter combinations.
Barrass’ frustration was clear as she received two public warnings and was almost disqualified and at the final bell the decision looked to be a formality in the Tredagh contingent’s view.
However, the decision went the other way despite the Swedish judge – one of three – scoring the bout 30-25 and giving all three rounds to Grace.
Her clubmate Breanna broke down crying after that shock decision before composing herself and entering the ring to face Germany’s Letizia Battois in her final.
The German champion presented as very big and strong, but Breanna set about her work from the opening bell, drifting into her opponent’s range to entice Battois to throw and elegantly, but aggressively, counter-punching off the German’s jab to land some heavy, high backhand crosses.
In round two Breanna continued to counter-punch and also pressed forward at the right moments to push the German backwards with heavy backhands and perfectly timed long lead hand uppercuts together with her trademark over-the-top hard-hitting backhand.
Breanna had said beforehand that it had been her dream to fight at these championships for the last five years and in round three she went all out.
She pressed with fast, hard-hitting combinations, incorporating side-sways with side backhand crosses, left and right hooks and uppercuts – all the while tearing Battois up when working on the inside.
In the final seconds Breanna landed a heavy backhand that rocked the German’s legs and forced the referee to give the mandatory eight count.
This time there was controversy at the end as Breanna won by a unanimous decision.
This trip was all about the international experience for the Tredagh duo and both girls boxed out of their skins as well as proving great ambassadors for their club and country.
On the same day as those girls finals Tredagh had four of their boys boxing in Manchester, representing their club and the nine-strong ‘Leinster Development Squad’ against ‘North West Region of England’.
Frankie Sheehy was first up for Tredagh and he had a ding-dong affair with home-town favourite Alfie Gargan, with both lads going toe to toe for the three rounds.
It was Sheehy’s hard-hitting backhand and spin hook turns that made the difference as he landed the bigger, more consistent shots and the final verdict was a split decision in favour of Sheehy. Kevin Mc Keever ended up giving away 4kg to the English champion but still proceeded with the fight and boxed extremely well against Emilio Headley.
He managed to win one of the rounds and was edged out on a close points decision after a fantastic performance.
Next up for Tredagh, donning the Leinster colours, was Callum Carragher against the experienced Connor Yates.
Both these boxers are at the top of their divisions in their retrospective countries and this was one of the most eagerly anticipated battles of the night.
Carragher gave a masterclass performance as his sharpness incorporating his jab / hook, backhand crosses, uppercuts, range, footwork etc was immaculate and perfectly timed to have his hand raised on the final verdict from the judges.
Thomas Mc Donagh’s opponent pulled out in the final hours and instead the U18 All-Ireland silver medallist had a non-decision bout with an older and heavier lad from England and boxed beyond his years to impress the large crowd.
Also on the same day there was action in Navan where a number of Tredagh’s Junior and Juvenile boxers took part in a non-decision show hosted by Meath County Board.
Those representing Tredagh were Casey Donagh, Rua Clinton, Cormac Kelly, Andrew Mathews, Cee-jay Sheelin and Daniel Mathews.
In the week leading up to the international trips Tredagh had two boxers – Ceejay Sheelin and Callum Carragher – featuring at a show in Camlough in Northern Ireland.
Ceejay faced Adrian Quinn from the host club Camlough BC and this was a cracking all-action three-rounder, with both lads displaying skillsets beyond their years and receiving rapturous applause at the end.
Callum faced the highly acclaimed Tullylish boxer Louis Hill who is the reigning Ulster champion and a year older.
This was an eagerly anticipated encounter on all sides of the venue and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The opening round was a tactical affair, with Hill coming forward and Callum using his boxing skills to counter-punch in a round that could have gone either way.
Rounds two and three ignited Callum as he mixed his counter-punching skills with aggressive, fast, hard-hitting combinations.
The final decision was a unanimous verdict in favour of Callum and both Tredagh boxers were presented with their prizes by current Irish Elite champion and international Kane Tucker.
Tredagh would like to acknowledge the coaches who supported the boxers in the various tournaments over the past few weeks – namely Vanessa Devine and Padraig McCullough in Sweden; Dave Mc Donagh, Paul Sheehy and Finton Mc Keever in Manchester; and Patrick Lavery and Eoin Watson who travelled with the Juniors to Navan.
Martin Butterly and ‘Butterly Steel Fabricators’ in Greenhills Industrial Estate, Drogheda, sponsored all of the equipment to travel to Sweden and there was great support for the raffle that helped raise the funds to ‘Get Our Girls to Sweden’.