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Shannon shines on European stage

Sport

HOME IS THE HERO A huge crowd turned out at St Anne’s Boxing Club in Westport on Sunday evening to welcome home Shannon Sweeney, who won bronze at the Women’s European Championships last week. Pic: John Moylette

Westport boxing star wins bronze medal at European Championships

Feature
Michael Gallagher

WESTPORT was a sea of noise, light and celebration on Sunday night as the community welcomed home, one of their own, Shannon Sweeney, the new European Elite Boxing bronze medalist at 48kgs.
Crowds turned out to greet the local hero who defeated Armenia’s Gayane Ter-Bargseghyan and Slovkia’s Nicole Durikova to secure a place on the podium in Montenegro, before being narrowly edged out by eventual gold medalist, Sevda Asenova from Bulgaria.
On Sunday afternoon, Sweeney and the Irish team were greeted by rapturous applause when they landed in Dublin Airport carrying the trophy for the best team at the championships following their medal haul of three gold, two silver and two bronze.
Speaking to The Mayo News in the arrivals hall, Sweeney expressed delight with her success and was looking forward to getting back to Westport and her home club, St Anne’s, at the Petet Callaghan Centre.
“I’m very happy to be back here with a bronze from the European Championships,” said the 24 year-old.
“It’s not the colour I wanted but I’m very happy and proud. It’s an amazing feeling and I can’t wait to get home and meet everyone who helped make this possible. I wouldn’t be here with this medal without them. They’re there for me on the good days and the bad days and I’m very thankful for that.”
Olympic champion Kellie Harrington, Amy Broadhurst and Roscommon’s Aoife O’Rourke came home with gold while Caitlin Fryers and Christina Desmond each took silver to go with the bronze medals of Sweeney and Michaela Walsh.
“I loved every second of the championships,” Shannon added.
“Everything was so well run and the team got on brilliantly and achieved so much — seven medals and the prize for best team at the championships was brilliant,” Sweeney added before restating her determination to achieve further boxing glory.
“This is just the start. It’s my first big championships, my first championships at elite level and the hard work is beginning to pay off. I gave up my job to concentrate on boxing and give it everything I have and it’s great to be here with this medal, but it’s only the start. There’s a lot more to come.
“This is just the beginning of my journey and I’m delighted to be able to share it with everyone who made it possible,” she concluded before turning towards Westport and the welcome awaiting her there.
A few hours later a rapturous welcome carried the boxing star in the Castlebar Road and on towards The Pete Callaghan Centre, the headquarters of her home club, St Anne’s BC. There to meet her in the midst of family, friends, supporters and politicians was the proud club president, Peter Mullen.
He expressed his utter delight with the scenes unfolding in front of him.
“This is special. It doesn’t get much better than this. Shannon is a special talent. She deserves everything she gets and there are even better days ahead for her. I remember the night she came through the door with her sisters and she has loved it ever since.
“Her dedication knows no bounds. She is giving it absolutely everything and she’s now getting the rewards. She’s an example to all young people and to everyone really; a lot of people have talent, but nothing is achieved without hard work.”
Among those speaking at Shannon’s homecoming was her club coach, Martin Brennan, who had pride oozing out of every pore.
“She’s special. She’s finally getting the recognition she deserves and things will only get better for her. We’re very proud tonight, but then again, we’re always very proud of Shannon and the way she represents herself and St Anne’s.”
The legendary Peter Mullen agreed, and said Shannon’s example will inspire many in the community.
“These are great times for St Anne’s and Shannon’s success will get even more young people interested in the sport. Our doors are open and we make everyone feel at home when they come into us.
“We’re very lucky to be involved in a club like this. We’ve had great times over the years. St Anne is looking after us well. (John) Porky McGreal had a great devotion to St Anne and he never let us train on Monday nights at that stage because he said that was her night.
“He might have been right!”

 

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