Hurling & Camogie

'I was told I was one punch from retirement': Walsh overcomes injury and inactivity to stun Broadhurst

Grainne Walsh jumps for joy after getting the better of a crestfallen Amy Broadhurst in Saturday night's Irish welterweight final at the National Stadium. Picture by Hugh Russell
Grainne Walsh jumps for joy after getting the better of a crestfallen Amy Broadhurst in Saturday night's Irish welterweight final at the National Stadium. Picture by Hugh Russell

Amateur boxing: Irish Elite Championship finals

COMEBACK kid Grainne Walsh put the rubber stamp on a weekend of stunning upsets when she defeated World, European and Commonwealth Games champion Amy Broadhurst on a dramatic night at the National Stadium.

Respect for reputations went out the window at the famous venue, with featherweight favourite Adam Hession and Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh both bounced out at the semi-final stage on Friday night.

And another turn-up for the books was saved for late on Saturday night when Grainne Walsh put years of injury woes and inactivity behind her to stun 63kg queen Broadhurst, who had moved up to 66kg while Walsh came down from 69kg.

That extra strength told at what Walsh considers her natural weight and, with High Performance coaches Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Damian Kennedy and Eoin Pluck watching from on high, she shrugged off a slow start to take control in the second and third rounds on the way to a 3-2 split decision.

Broadhurst was visibly upset as the decision was called, while Walsh was embraced by Olympic champion Kellie Harrington after putting herself in pole position as the race for Paris 2024 spots begins.

“I’ve been on a rollercoaster of a journey,” she said.

“I’ve had three fights in three years, so I had a lot of ground to make up considering Amy’s form last year, but I just knew I was superior at this weight.

“I have nothing but respect for her, but I just knew going into the ring that this was my time and nobody was going to take it away from me. I had four operations on my right thumb and then, this is completely under the radar but four weeks ago I had surgery on my little toe because I dropped a dumbbell on it. I didn’t want to say anything out of fear someone might stand on it!”

Walsh admits there were times she considered her future in the sport during those frustrating three years, but all the hard work was worth it as the Offaly woman jumped her joy when the result was read out.

“We had an amazing surgeon up in Belfast, but after so many injuries he did tell me I was one punch away from retirement.

“So there was that fear factor, and at 27 years of age I had to change things, stop throwing some shots which would have made my hand vulnerable. But it all came to fruition there at the perfect time.

“This means the world to me. It puts us in a great place, and it’s going to take something big to take that spot away from me after everything I’ve been through.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail but I want to be back in a place where I’m respected. People now know I’m a serious contender.”

Broadhurst, meanwhile, stands at a crossroads as she bids to get her Olympic dream back on track – but, after such a breathtaking 2022, all is far from lost.

And dad Tony, who was in his daughter’s corner, shed some light on how the current situation arose in a Facebook post yesterday.

“For anyone guessing or presuming why Amy was 66kg and not 60kg, it's because there's a criteria that even if Amy was to win 60kg the points system that chooses the boxer for that weight would mean Amy still wouldn't be picked because her Worlds and European gold Medals were achieved at 63kg, which isn't an Olympic weight.

“So Amy being Amy took the challenge of moving from 60kg to 66kg to compete against 69kg boxers moving down to 66kg. It’s so sad how the Olympic weights have forced boxers to do this kind of stuff, but it shows the character and what type of person Amy is to put herself in such a position.”


Irish Elite Championship finals

81kg: B Doocey (Castlebar) bt D Tinnelly (Clann Naofa) 5-0

48kg: R Nesbitt (Holy Family, Drogheda) bt P Downey (St John Bosco) 3-2

52kg: N Clyde (Antrim) bt C Gabriel (Mulhuddart) 3-2

92+: G Lisinskas (Celtic Eagles) bt WJ McCartan (Gilford) RSC2

63kg: S Browne-O’Keefe (Clonmel) bt WC McDonagh (Neilstown) 5-0

75kg: C O’Reilly (Holy Family, Drogheda) bt J Olaniyan (Jobstown) 3-2

81+kg: J Bobbitt (Liberty) bt S Kearney (Bunclody) 5-0

57kg: P Loonam (St Carthage’s) bt S Purcell (Saviours Crystal) 5-0

54kg: N Fay (Ballybougal) bt J Lehane (DCU) 5-0

60kg: D Joyce (Holy Family, Drogheda) bt J Nevin (Olympic, Mullingar) 4-1

48kg: N Buckley (St Carthage’s) bt C Walsh (Smithfield) 5-0

54kg: D Eagleson (St Paul’s) bt JR Castanno (Corinthians) 5-0

60kg: K Harrington (St Mary’s) bt Z Breslin (Tramore) 5-0

67kg: E McKeever (Holy Family, Dundalk) bt R McCarthy (Fr Horgan’s) 3-2

50kg: D Moorehouse (Enniskerry) bt C Fryers (Immaculata) 5-0

75kg: A O’Rourke (Olympic) bt A Carabine (Geesala) 5-0

71kg: D Walsh (St Ibars/Joseph’s) bt J McConnell (Holy Trinity) 4-1

63.5kg: D Clancy (Sean McDermott’s) WO B McCarthy (St Michael’s)

57kg: M Walsh (Emerald) bt K Leonard (Unit 3) 5-0

51kg: S Mari (Monkstown/DF) bt C dos Santos (Holy Trinity) RSC2


66kg: G Walsh (Spartacus) bt A Broadhurst (St Bronagh’s) 3-2

80kg: K Cassidy (Saviours Crystal) bt J Clancy (Sean McDermott) 5-0

70kg: C Desmond (Dungarvan/Garda) bt T O’Reilly (Portlaoise/DF) 5-0

92kg: J Marley (Monkstown) bt P Ward (Olympic) 5-0

86kg: D Oliynyk (Smithfield) WO K Tucker (Emerald)