'You want to see my nose - I look like the elephant woman': Pain game pays off for Irish champion Carly McNaul
BY her own admission, Carly McNaul isn’t one to make life easy for herself – or for the friends and family who sit at ringside watching her in action.
Nine-year-old son Jaden – “my number one fan” - was among those at the National Stadium on Saturday night, roaring the Commonwealth Games silver medallist on in her 51 kilo final against the powerful Niamh Earley.
Following a slow start, McNaul came back strongly and her superior fitness told in the final two rounds as she edged to a split decision that puts her in the frame for Irish selection in the months ahead.
Speaking yesterday morning, the 29-year-old admitted the effects of that bruising encounter were beginning to kick in as the buzz of victory subsided.
“I’m a bit busted up. You want to see my nose - I look like the elephant woman,” laughed the Holy Family fighter, who is trained by the legendary Gerry Storey.
“I’m a very slow starter, it always takes me a bit to get going, so I’d say she got the first round and then I came on. But she kept holding me and stuff, she was quite dirty and it ruined the fight, it made it very scrappy; you couldn’t get any clean shots off.
“She did the exact same thing with Caitlin Fryers in their U22 final.”
It made for tough viewing at times for those outside the ropes, with Jaden as relieved as anyone to see him mum’s hand raised at the end of three gruelling rounds.
“He’s watched me from he was born really - he used to be in the pram when I was training, just sitting there watching, but he finds it harder to watch me now.
“When he saw my first fight in the Commonwealths, I think that put him off. He went out onto the stairs and cried his eyes out. In the second fight the girl from Nigeria nearly knocked me out in the first round and he ran out again, but when he came back in it was all over and I’d won.
“The way I start slow, I have all my family and friends with their hearts in the mouths watching me, thinking ‘Carly, what are you doing?’ But as long as you get the job done, that’s what matters.
“It’s better to win badly than to lose well, isn’t it?”
McNaul won’t have too much time to let her bumps and bruises heal as she will be part of an Ulster side that takes on a New York select in the Big Apple on St Patrick’s Day.
For the east Belfast woman though, any opportunity to get back in the ring is to be welcomed.
After landing silver on the Gold Coast last April, McNaul didn’t box competitively again until her Ulster elite final win over Caitlin Fryers back in January.
As she chases her dream of making it to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and a prospective pro career after that, McNaul just wants to keep busy in these prime years of her career.
“I’m in New York in a few weeks then later on there’s the European Games, the Chemistry Cup… the more I get out, I’m learning in every fight and the more fights I’m getting the better I’m getting.
“No-one knew who I was before the Commonwealths. I’m finding it a lot easier to make the weight, it just comes more naturally now and I feel like I’m in my prime.
“I might be older than the rest of them but I only really started getting a bit of international experience in the last three years so, yes I’ve been about for years, but the younger kids now get a lot more opportunities to go away to different tournaments.
“I never really had any of that, so I still feel like I’m still learning all the time.”
IRISH CHIEFS SELECT TEAM FOR EUROPEAN U22 CHAMPIONSHIPS
IRISH boxing chiefs have named a formidable looking 10-strong squad for the European Men’s and Women’s U/22 Championships in Vladikavkaz, Russia next month.
Five of the squad – Amy Broadhurst, Aoife O’Rourke, Gabriel Dossen, Adam Hession and David Oliver Joyce – claimed elite belts last Saturday.
Limerick’s Paddy Donovan, who lost a classic welterweight final to Kieran Molloy, is also included on the team.
Dundalk southpaw Broadhurst won European U22 gold in Romania last March, while O’Rourke took silver.
“Amy will be aiming to retain her European title in Russia. Winning an elite belt and then a second European U22 gold is her goal for the start of the year," said her dad and coach, Tony Broadhurst.
Boxing begins on March 8 in Vladikavkaz. The finals will be decided on St Patrick’s Day.
Meanwhile, Serbian lightweight Jelena Jelic believes Kellie Harrington will finish amongst the medals if she qualifies for Tokyo 2020.
Harrington, the current World elite lightweight champion, beat Jelic on a unanimous decision in an international bout on Irish elite finals night at Dublin’s National Stadium on Saturday.
“She is a difficult opponent, even if she switches [from southpaw to orthodox) or not,” said Jelic, who was beaten by Olympic champion Katie Taylor in Cork in 2016.
”It was difficult, I was fighting in her city. I think she can make it to the Olympics and win a medal. The Olympics is a goal I have but also turning pro.”
Ireland U22 squad
51kg: N Earley (Ryston); 57kg: M Geraghty (St Anthony’s); 60kg: A Broadhurst (Dealgan); 64kg: S O’Callaghan (Clann Naofa); 75kg: A O’Rourke (Castlerea)
52kg: A Hession (Monivea); 60kg: D Joyce (Ballymun); 64kg: P O’Leary (Dublin Docklands); 69kg: P Donovan (OLOL); 75kg: G Dossen (Olympic)
Team manager: S Molloy; Head coach: D Dmitruk; Coaches: A Just, P Keogh; R&J: S Kelly