Boxing

Irish golden girls only get better after conquering Worlds: Conlan

Dundalk’s Amy Broadhurst (left) and Roscommon’s Lisa O’Rourke with their gold medalsat the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul yesterday
Picture: Inpho 
Neil Loughran

GOLDEN girls Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke joined an exclusive club of Irish World champions yesterday – and coach John Conlan believes the pair are still getting better after helping Ireland top the medals table in Istanbul.

Dundalk’s O’Rourke, who boxes out of the St Bronagh’s club in Rostrevor and will represent Team NI at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, has performed superbly throughout the competition, and claimed light-welterweight gold with a dominant display against Algeria’s Imane Khelif.

Less than half an hour later, Roscommon’s O’Rourke made it a day to remember when she joined Broadhurst on top of the podium, proving too quick and slick for Mozambique’s Alcinda Helena Panguane in the light-middleweight decider.

As well as securing the $100,000USD prize money on offer for gold medallists, both women also wrote their names into the history books alongside the only other Irish females to hold World Championship medals – Olympic champions Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington.

Not bad company to keep, but Conlan insists all outside factors were shut out throughout the competition.

“I’m delighted for both girls, they were brilliant,” said the Irish coach, his voice hoarse as he talks en route to the team hotel in the Turkish capital last night.

“Everybody’s tired now, me and Zaur haven’t had anything to eat all day, but big fights are always like that.

“In hindsight it’s not bad company [joining Taylor and Harrington as World champions] but we don’t project that. It’s another tournament, it’s about getting performances. There was $100,000USD for prize money there – you start talking about anything like that, you take your eye off the ball.

“For us it was just staying focused, living in a bubble basically. But we had good preparation, a good training camp in Italy before.”

Conlan will be working with Broadhurst at close quarters again as part of the Commonwealth Games team bound for Birmingham this summer.

Having barely boxed competitively in the past two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with plans to challenge Harrington for the lightweight spot ahead of the next Olympics in Paris, the 25-year-old certainly didn’t show any ring rust in Turkey as she blazed through the field.

“Amy has really progressed, and she’s still improving,” said Conlan.

“We took her to Tokyo with us last year for development, gave her that experience, and it was a really good move by Bernard [Dunne]. She got out a lot of it, saw what level she is at and became a little more hungry.

“That was a very tricky opponent today but the tactics were perfect – don’t jump in, tight guard, take everything on the gloves, push her back, make her make mistakes, then jump on those mistakes.

“She landed some real clean shots and her opponent became more negative. That’s exactly the way we wanted to go - it was a good tactical plan and she executed it really well.”

As for O’Rourke, yesterday’s jump for joy at the finish rounded off a remarkable eight months in which she has been crowned Irish elite champion, European U22 champion and now queen of the world.

The Castlerea woman, whose sister Aoife represented Ireland at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, only turned 20 last week – and Conlan has been hugely impressed with her rapid rise.

“She’s basically a novice still.

“That’s what’s great about it. Lisa is very good under instruction, and she implemented the tactics perfectly. Her opponent was a little bit slower, more powerful, but we knew Lisa had speed and good ring craft and those were the key factors in the fight.

“She went in there and fought her fight, and now she has her reward. It’s been a great day.”

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