Two smashing champions!

KILKENNY women with pluck and punching power were the toast of the nation at the weekend, writes John Knox.

KILKENNY women with pluck and punching power were the toast of the nation at the weekend, writes John Knox.

Paulstown boxer, Hannah Carty completed a magnificent five in-a-row when winning the Irish Elite (48kgs) senior title to go with the youths, junior, under-21 and intermediate crowns already won.

And not to be out-done, Clare Grace from Callan boxing club won her second Elite 69kgs senior crown to earn a ranking of 27th in the World.

The two Kilkenny champions beat the best the nation had to offer at the National Elite championships in the National Stadium.

Carty (17) defeated three in-a-row champ, Lyn McEnery, St Paul’s (Waterford) 12-8 in the semis before out-classing Maeve Clarke, Ballinacarrow (Sligo) 18-12 in the final to complete an amazing year.

“She has massive talent,” her coach, Ollie O’Neill said. “She beat a multi honoured senior champion. Hannah can go a long, long way in this sport.”

Clare Grace bounced back from being 4-1 down in the first round of the final to score a comfortable 15-8 victory over the experienced Louise Traynor (Bray), who had Katie Taylor’s dad, Pete in her corner.

Clare scored a runaway 28-12 victory over Joanne Begley (Holy Family, Belfast) in the semi-final.

“I was very slow at the start and got caught with a few punches,” the DCU student explained of her sluggish opening in the final. “In the second and third rounds I moved better and that approach worked. I am delighted.”

Grace’s coach, Jimmy Walsh from Callan described the performance as “brilliant”.

“She didn’t settle well,” he said of the below par opening, “but we sorted that out in the corner. Things went smoothly after that.”

They certainly did, as the scores at the end of the following rounds would suggest – 6-5, 11-6 and 15-8.

“Clare has seven Irish titles now, and two handball All-Ireland titles as well,” Jimmy enthused. “She is really delivering on the promise she has shown from day one. We have ourselves a real champion here.”

Clare’s next fight will be in the colleges championships, and beyond that additional outings in the Irish colours are guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Olympian Darren O’Neill, Paulstown BC was beaten in the quarter-finals of the 75kgs Elite senior championship by Jason Quigley. O’Neill trailed 9-7 after two rounds. He won the third 6-4, but lost on a count back after the fight finished 13-13.