Ring ace Alanna set to make history at Games
ALANNA Audley-Murphy knows all about breaking new ground and she is on course to do it again by representing Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow.
Alanna, (28), made history when she stepped into the ring in the National Stadium in 2001 with future golden girl Katie Taylor, and they became the first two females to clash in the famous old stadium.
Since then the women have remained close friends, boxing for Ireland together and Alanna was there in 2012 when Taylor landed the Olympic gold medal.
Now the Commonwealth Games is going to stage women's boxing for the first time and Northern Ireland are expected to send at least two boxers to Glasgow. Murphy of Eastside ABC and Holy Family's Michaela Walsh are the two outstanding women – both winning Ulster titles at the recent Elite championships.
Lightweight Alanna, a former World championship quarter-finalist, is relishing the chance of shooting for a medal in Glasgow.
"I would love to get a medal for Northern Ireland in Glasgow," said Alanna, who is expected to compete at the Irish championships which start next week.
"I feel in great form at the moment after winning the Ulster title and I'm entered for the Irish championships which means that I could end up facing Katie again.
"Katie has been great for the sport, women's boxing wouldn't be where it is today without her. I remember when we boxed in 2001 and all the people couldn't believe it, they hadn't seen women's boxing before and they seemed quite impressed.
"Since then we remained very good friends and she even mentioned me in the interview straight after winning the gold medal in London.
"That was a great win, a great moment for women's boxing and I would love to have a similar moment like that in Glasgow.
"If I do end up facing Katie in the Irish championships I would love it because she is a good friend and such a good role model for the sport."
Not only is Alanna the reigning Ulster lightweight champion, completing back-to-back title wins over Sarah Close – daughter of former European champion Ray – but she is also the current ABA lightweight champion.
"Because of my work I am based a lot in England even though I train at the Eastside club when I'm home and I have won three ABA titles," added Alanna.
"I'm looking ahead to the Irish championships and then hopefully I can get some international competition ahead of the Games.
"Natasha Jones, who Katie beat in the quarter-finals in London, will probably be there so it's going to be tough but I am really up for it."
The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games council will decide upon the men and women's team following the nominations from the Ulster council later in the year.
* THE Mid Ulster boxing championships kick off tomorrow (12.30), with the preliminaries continuing on Sunday (11am) before the finals take place on Saturday February 22 (11am).
The first Mid Ulster championships were staged 50 years ago in St Patrick's Hall, Banbridge and it seems appropriate that the town should be staging this year's event, which is for boys and girls aged 14, 15 and 16.
Banbridge Amateur boxing club will host the championships, which bring together boxers from Armagh, Cavan, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone.
Banbridge ABC secretary Anne Murphy said: "It is fantastic that boxing now has a dedicated centre in this area and for the Mid Ulster Championships to return to Banbridge after 50years is very fitting.
"We are absolutely delighted to be hosting this prestigious event in Banbridge."
The winners go forward to represent Mid Ulster in the Ulster finals later in the year.