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Clare Showed The Way To Young Girls

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Eager beaver pugilists at Callan, County Kilkenny Boxing Club may harbor the ambition of following the brilliant road of success travelled by Clare Grace, one of the wonderful old club’s all-time greats.
Clare, a daughter of Tullahought wore Callan and Irish boxing shirts with pride.
She went oh so close to ruling the world of women’s boxing as she won five European titles and a host of other awards.
An Elite fighter, Clare was ranked No. 8 in the world when she retired to concentrate on a medical career.
She is now radiographer at Waterford University Hospital.
Clare has always been Callan Boxing Club head coach Jimmy Walsh’s pride and joy.
He sat in her corner for years, advising, cajoling and encouraging a local girl who he describes as one of the best ever.
Today, as the new season gets underway in the Callan Club many young wannabe champions may just be dreaming the possible dream that led to a fairytale-like career for a passionate, talented and devoted amateur sportswoman of real discipline and ambition.

Family affair: Laura Walsh and her brother Jay enjoy a light sparring session

Young guns Roisín Mahony and Abby Walsh are among twinkling stars that could follow in Clare’s footsteps of courage and desire.
“These are two very good and exceptionally honest boxers who could write further chapters that would ensure that our proud club tradition continues.
“Over my near 80-year career as a fighter and ringside coach I have grappled with the best and coached God only knows how many since a group of great Callan boxers, all of them super characters, retired from the ring.”
Desart, Cuffesgrange girl, Roisín is 18 and has won three Leinster titles.
She is working hard as she looks forward to scrapping in Irish finals to be decided shortly.
She has been in the Callan boxing ring since she was 10.
A past pupil of St Brigid’s College, Callan, she is daughter of Martina and Michael Mahony.
Garryricken, Windgap girl Abby is 15. She won her first Leinster title last year and is also looking forward to contesting Irish finals.
Her parents are Stephen and Martina Walsh and her dad Stephen is a devoted coach with the Callan Club.

Head coach, Jimmy Walsh with Irish boxing hero Katie Taylor and the pride of Callan, Clare Grace

She has been a club member for three years and is a pupil of St Brigid’s College.
“Both girls are very talented and are determined to do our club and their families proud.
“Their coach is Michael Comerford who, along with John Hickey and Stephen Walsh, gives unselfishly of his time and talent to coach boys and girls from the locality,” said Jimmy Walsh.
Abby’s younger sister Laura, aged 8 and brother Jay, aged 6 are already being taught the basics of boxing but they won’t fight competitively until the age of 11.
“Laura is a determined girl who wears glasses which, naturally she will discard going into the ring,” the head coach told Kilkenny Press.
“But she is delighted to don her specs when joining brother Jay for a picture.
“I can’t say that all the young boxers who enjoy training and coaching at our club will go on to be Irish and or world champions.
“But I can guarantee that all of them will battle bravely to bring honour to the town of Callan and surrounds that have always been so generous to our club.” Jimmy added.

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