Renee Roche on top of her game at National Senior Boxing Finals

Ruairi Carberry 

Renee Roache took home gold in the National Senior Finals at the National Stadium on Friday November 8th, defeating Isabella Hughes 4-1 on a split decision.

The Mayo native, boxing out of DCU, received a walkover in the semi-finals the previous week due to an opponent missing weight, this did not, however, hinder her in the week leading up to the final.

Despite missing out on an opportunity to perform, and having weighed in for a semi-final bout that did not take place, Roache had looked a “wee bit drained” afterward according to coach Terry Keegan.

However, with a week to prepare for her bout against Hughes, she began to peak and looked increasingly sharp as the final approached according to Keegan.

Having been instructed by coaches Keegan and head coach Derek Ahern to keep the fight on the outside and throw long shots, Roache and gradually took control of the fight, demonstrating well her loyalty to strategy.

Making use of her length, the southpaw fighter boxed long and looked to take advantage of the open stance match up, by firing her straight left hand over Hughes’ jab, a shot which landed throughout the contest.

Despite a close first round, Roache began to take over in the second and had increased success in the third, as the straight left hands started to add up.

“The first round was pretty close, but I think Renee landed the cleaner shots. In the second round she did very well, she definitely had a lot of success in the second and third round, she was pretty dominant” said Keegan.

In the end, despite Hughes being awarded one round on the scorecard, it was fairly routine for Roache, who came away with a split decision.

Naturally, Roache was delighted with her performance, and was looking forward to challenging for more titles in the future with DCU.

“The national seniors is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the boxing calendar, and to win the female 60kg title on Friday night was an amazing experience. This is my second national title to date as well as a few underage Mayo and Connacht titles. I hope to win a few more titles for the club in the future,” she said.

Fellow DCU boxers, Faolan Rahill and Jennifer Lehane, also competed in the tournament, both of whom bowed out before the finals.

Having had members of the club represented at both the National Novices and National Seniors, the focus for DCU boxing shifted to the National Elites, which began on the November 15th.

In the preliminary round of the Elites, Terry McEntee had a strong showing against eventual finalist Aidan Walsh but ultimately lost out on a technicality.

At the end of the third round, the judges declared the fight a draw. This led to each judge voting for an eventual winner to progress, a process known as a “countback”, a practice that is uncommon in amateur boxing.

Walsh’s hand was raised and he is due to compete in the finals.

Despite the disappointment of McEntee’s exit, head coach Derek Ahern was happy with the display of his pupil against one of the favourites to win the competition from the beginning.

McEntee’s instructions were to intelligently press the fight, and the Monaghan native managed to do this despite a strong opening round from Walsh, who boxed well and repeatedly tried to tie up his opponent and prevent the fight from unfolding.

The second round would see Walsh get a public warning for “blinding with his lead hand”, a tactic of extending the arm outward, to cover McEntee’s line of vision.

McEntee upped the pressure in the second and took this momentum into the third, which he dominated according to coach Ahern.

Having worked with McEntee for the past three years, and seen nothing but improvement in that space of time, Ahern has little doubt that there is a lot more to come from the Monaghan man in the future.

“I have no doubt that Terry is going to win an Elite title, but we’re going to have to put it back until next year”, he said.

This sentiment was shared by the Monaghan fighter, who indicated that he was going to return to training and focus firmly on the future: “I have a busy year ahead. The Ulster Elites are in January, the Third-Level championships are usually in March and the National U-22 championships are in July”.

Having only made the jump to 69kg, this year, DCU Boxing is confident that further work with DCU Sport’s high-performance manager Stephen Bennet, Ken Robinson and the rest of the strength and conditioning team, will ensure McEntee is well-positioned to perform even better in the events ahead.

Ruairi Carberry 

Image Credit: DCU Boxing