Sport

Kellie Harrington: ‘There’s no bad blood towards Amy’

But Broadhurst’s partner - Irish coach Eoin Pluck - won’t be involved in Dubliner’s Olympic preparations

Irish boxer Kellie Harrington pictured at the launch of the SPAR Stay in the Game campaign. The campaign, which is part of SPAR's community fund, will run until June 30 and encourages the public to nominate a school or club in their community that is fostering the continued participation of girls in sport. To nominate a post-primary school or club visit www.spar.ie/communityfund. Picture by Sportsfile
Irish boxer Kellie Harrington pictured at the launch of the SPAR Stay in the Game campaign. The campaign, which is part of SPAR's community fund, will run until June 30 and encourages the public to nominate a school or club in their community that is fostering the continued participation of girls in sport. To nominate a post-primary school or club visit www.spar.ie/communityfund. Picture by Sportsfile (SPORTSFILE)

OLYMPIC golden girl Kellie Harrington has backed Amy Broadhurst to join her in the lightweight mix at this summer’s Games, opening the door to a potential showdown between the pair in Paris.

However, the Dubliner insists Broadhurst’s partner - Irish coach Eoin Pluck – will play no part in her preparation, claiming it would be akin to having “a spy in the camp”.

Broadhurst sprung a major surprise when opting to transfer allegiance to Great Britain after being overlooked by Ireland for the light-welterweight spot at the final Olympic qualifier in Thailand, which gets under way next week.

The 27-year-old has since been selected for Team GB at 60kg, even though she hasn’t boxed at that weight since taking the Commonwealth Games crown in August 2022, with the World and European titles claimed that same year won at 66kg.

Indeed, Broadhurst hasn’t boxed competitively since losing out to new GB team-mate Rosie Eccles at last summer’s European qualifier in Poland, with a shoulder injury keeping her sidelined towards the end of 2023.



Yet Harrington – who says she wasn’t surprised by Broadhurst’s switch - still expects her former domestic rival to secure one of the three lightweight spots up for grabs in Bangkok.

“I think she should do,” said the 34-year-old, speaking at the launch of the SPAR Stay in the Game campaign on Wednesday.

If the Dundalk woman does qualify, talk – in the public domain at least – will immediately turn to the possibility of Broadhurst and Harrington locking horns in Paris.

But the reigning Olympic champion believes that is too far off to even consider.

“To be honest with you I didn’t really have a reaction,” she said when asked about Broadhurst’s decision to pursue her Olympic dream with GB.

“People were saying, ‘aw, you might be facing each other’ and so on, but look, I don’t how many boxers are in my weight... I’m going to say 22 because that seems to be an average number that’s always in the weight categories.

“But if I was to think of just one person, that would be absolutely crazy. There’s so many really, really good girls out there and the draw has to be done.

“Like, you never overlook anybody and, the way I look at it is, I train now for different types of styles, and then the draw gets done and you go from there. That’s it.

“One day at a time, one foot in front of the other and you take it minute by minute in the ring.”

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association has opted to boycott competitions run by the International Boxing Association. Ireland returned from last year's women's Worlds with two gold medals, courtesy of Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O'Rourke. Picture by INPHO
Amy Broadhurst, who claimed World, European and Commonwealth Games gold two years ago, will compete for Team GB at the upcoming World Olympic qualifier. Picture by INPHO

Although they have only fought once, in the 2018 Irish elite final, the pair have sparred countless rounds behind closed doors, with Broadhurst long considered the successor to Harrington at 60kg.

Yet, despite chasing the same dream for so long, Harrington says there is no “bad blood” towards Broadhurst.

“Ah, yeah, I’d be good friends with Amy, like. There’s no bad blood or bad feelings towards Amy. She was a team-mate.

“We don’t really have bad blood in Team Ireland... and beyond!”

The issue of Pluck’s involvement, however, raised eyebrows in some quarters as the Olympics near – but Harrington insists he will play no part in her preparation for Paris. “He won’t be involved with me,” she said after a long pause, “which is a shame because he’s a great coach.

“But, I mean, you can’t have that, like. Essentially, it’s a spy in the camp, so... you can’t have that.”

Regardless of all the different sideshows at play, with just 72 days until the Games begin, Harrington is starting to get into the zone having qualified 10 months ago.

“The switch-on started last week, trying to switch on now, and trying to prepare for the big show basically.

“It’s a long tunnel, and it’s been a wide tunnel, because I qualified last year, in the European Games. And it’s been a long wait now, obviously. The focus hasn’t been there, but now it’s starting to shift, as of last week.”