Rising boxing star Caitlin Fryers targetting Irish honours
SHE is one of Irish boxing's rising stars and on Friday evening at the Naional Stadium, Immaculata's Caitlin Fryers will hope to claim the national U18 title when she takes on Cardonagh's Jessica Clarke in the 51kg final.
Fryer's claimed a bronze medal at the World Youths in India last November to highlight her undoubted potential and while her days of competing as a youth are coming to an end, she will be hoping to see out 2018 on a high beginning this weekend.
Two years ago, Fryers and Clarke shared a ring on two occasions – the Carndonagh girl coming out on top in Ulster, but Fryers settled the score in the national final, so this Friday's meeting is nicely poised.
“I fancy Caitlin strongly to win, I really do,” said Immaculata club coach, Alfredo Meli.
“She is a really hard trainer and a great asset to the club.
“She is a great kid, working over the summer and is hoping to start university at Jordanstown soon.
“Hopefully, John Conlan will bring her onto the High Performance team up there at some point.
“She has been selected for the Worlds again (set to be held in Hungary next month) so this is her last chance at the Youths.
“We were talking the other day and she was saying she would like a crack at the Intermediates before going into the Elites.”
Women's boxing has found itself becoming more and more part of the mainstream, thanks mainly to the exploits of its major stars such as Katie Taylor
The success of Ireland's golden girl has inspired a new generation of female boxers and Fryers is no different according to Meli.
“My wife, Catherine works with Caitlin and she would be an unsung hero of the club,” he added.
“It's a male-orientated sport, but fair play to the women.
“People like Katie Taylor, Michaela Walsh and even those before like Alanna Murphy paved the way.
“Women's boxing has come on leaps and bounds since then.”
Fryers' performances have also come on tenfold in recent years and her goal will be to secure a place at major championships such as the Commonwealth Games that will be held in Birmingham in four years' time.
It is a gradual process however, with hurdles to negotiate along the way and Meli admits that real life can get in the way.
“She is certainly getting there and getting there fast, but once kids start working and going to college, it's when you can start to lose good boxers,” he accepts.
“I've seen loads of good boxers from the club, even my own sons, when they start working, they just don't have the time.”
There is still much work being done inside the doors of the famous ‘Mac gym in Divis, but like many clubs, success can come in waves.
At the minute, they are in something of a transitional period, but it is hoped the success of Fryers can inspire the younger members of the club.
“We are trying to build the club back up again, but it's hard as kids can be more interested in Playstations or football,” Meli admits.
“Coaches at the club are doing a great job at bringing the young ones through, but they won't be ready for another two years.”
Fryers v Clarke is just one of 16 finals set to be decided on Friday with a number of Ulster boxers in action.
Two Castles' Jude Gallagher faces Adam Hession (Monivea) in the 49kg final; Danny Duffy (Immaculata, Strabane) takes on Terry Donoghue from St Michael's, Athy at 52kg; while in the 81kg final, Holy Family's rising star, Kane Tucker goes up against Jack Lawlor from Thurles.