Shannon Sweeney opened the National Elite Senior Championships finals night at the weekend, withstanding the relentless Carol Coughlan with some quality work and taking a tight 3-2 split decision win.
A big result for the 19-year-old, the fight marked an important step in a long-term plan which is hoped will end at the 2024 Olympics.
In many ways the final was similar to the 2017 decider, where Sweeney was out-gunned by the powerful Kristina O’Hara. This time around though, Sweeney was able to battle through against a physically larger foe and claim a maiden Elite title.
“I couldn’t be happier,” the Mayo teenager told Irish-Boxing.com immediately afterward.
“It feels great. It’s been two years, after getting beat by Kristina O’Hara and it’s just an amazing feeling.”
The defeat to the Commonwealth Games-bound O’Hara has proven a pivotal moment for the Westport puncher.
Sweeney outlined how “it drove me on, it didn’t put me down. I kept focused and kept training, every day, to be a better me and accomplish more.”
“She [Coughlan] kept coming at me, I can’t fault her. It was a good fight and I had to dig deep. I came out with the win but there’s still a lot to work with.
Many of the women’s winners on Saturday were looking forward to the Europeans and Worlds this year, however Team Sweeney are thinking long-term. Indeed, the commited Westerner’s main target is the Paris Olympics is 2024.
Martin Brennan, coach at St Anne’s, explained how “she’s only 46-and a half, 47 kilos, our dream for this lady is six years time at 51kg [48kg is not an Olympic weight]. It’s a natural, gradual process.”
“She’s a serious talent and she lives the life. She loves training and nutrition, she’s a piece of cake to work with!”