Caitlin Fryers hopes to force her way back into flyweight mix this year

Immaculata ace has sights set on 2026 Commonwealth Games

Daina Moorehouse celebrates after getting the nod against Caitlin Fryers last night. Picture by Hugh Russell
Caitlin Fryers narrowly lost out to Daina Moorehouse in the 2023 Irish elite final. Picture by Hugh Russell

IT has already been a year to remember for Irish flyweights – and Cailtin Fryers is hoping to force her way back into the reckoning in the weeks and months to come.

There has been little between the likes of Fryers, Daina Moorehouse and Shannon Sweeney during recent years, with the west Belfast woman jumping to the head of the queue after picking up a silver medal at the European U22 Championships.

However, since edging Fryers in the final of the 2023 Irish elites, Moorehouse has gone on to secure qualification for the Olympic Games – booking her spot at the third time of asking – while Sweeney claimed European gold in Belgrade back in April.

It is that kind of competition that is driving boxing in Ireland at present, especially among the female ranks where the country will have a boxer competing at every weight in Paris.

And, despite being rivals, Fryers was supporting Moorehouse from afar.

“I was cheering them on the whole way,” said the 24-year-old.

“I watched every fight from the qualifier, and I was over the moon for Daina – she’s a good friend of mine, and she has put it in. It’s good to be part of helping her get there as well with sparring, she got the job done in the end after two 3-2 splits went against her before.

“If you look at a lot of the weights, there’s two or three going for the same spot, everyone can compete at that level and bring medals home.

“It makes us all push each other on to try and get that spot, but it’s hard as well because you know there’s two really good boxers in with you. You can never afford to be in your comfort zone, you have to keep working hard.”

Fryers was left frustrated by a lack of activity last year, but was back between the ropes at an international competition in Porto in March, and is part of an Ulster select preparing to take part in the Golden Gloves tournament in Romania this week.

The team - which also includes Louis Rooney, Clepson dos Santos, Donagh Keary, Matthew McCole and Nicole Clyde – arrive in Romania on Tuesday, with a host of the world’s top nations jetting in to compete.

Fryers knows it will be a step up in class, and a welcome opportunity to keep busy on the international stage.

“I only got out once last year, and it kind of showed at the end of the year, coming up to the elites, that I wasn’t busy. It’s great that Ulster have their own high performance linked to Dublin, because you can jump in between and stay busy.

“The Porto competition wasn’t up to the same standard, but it was good to get me away, get a few fights and back into that routine. Going into this one, I know it’s going to be a lot harder, you’re probably going to have some girls who have already qualified for the Olympics, then all the eastern Europeans and countries closer to Asia, so it’ll be tough.

“But I can’t wait to go out and get back fighting at a high level internationally again.”

With boxing’s place at the 2028 Olympic Games still under threat, Fryers is keeping her ambitions a little closer to hand as she surveys the landscape of the next few years.

The Immaculata woman was in the mix for the last Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and admits her sights are set on making it onto Team NI for the 2026 instalment.

“The next big major is the Commonwealths, that’s where my focus is at the minute, so I’ll take it until then. Once we get to that point, we’ll take it from there.

“It’s still up in the air whether boxing’s going to be in the next Olympics with everything going on with the international governing bodies. I would like to stay around if they’re going ahead, but if they’re not then you have a decision to make.”