Celine has always been very active and from a young age was involved in martial arts in her native Buncrana. “While I was at school I did karate and later went on to do cross country running, but after that I never did much until these past four years.
“I have always had an interest in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and it was through this I decided I wanted to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).
“I joined a club in Letterkenny and had my first Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight three years ago here in the town and lost. I had only trained in Jiu-Jitsu and I feel I didn’t have enough experience nor the proper training to compete in MMA at that time,” she said.
After that fight Celine was approached by fellow Buncrana native Patrick Quinn of Buncrana Boxing Club who said he would like to improve her boxing.
“Patrick invited me to join him for training and I went on to work with him for six months, but then he explained to me that I would need sparring partners to work on my Stand Up.”
This was when Celine made the decision to take things to the next level and join the very well known Straight Blast Gym International (SBGi) in Dublin.
There was a very good reason behind Celine’s decision to travel all the way to Dublin for training, and that choice opened up a whole new life for the young mother.
“Aisling ‘Ais The Bash’ Daly from Dublin, the first woman to fight MMA in a cage in Ireland, is ranked in the top ten in the world in the 125lbs Women’s MMA Division, and trains under John Kavanagh at SBGi and this was the main reason why I chose to join them a year ago.
“John, who runs the SBGi gyms, is not only Ireland’s first BJJ black belt and MMA cage fighter, he is also a world class coach. He received his second degree black belt last year and under him the SBGi has been awarded Club, Coach and Female Fighter (Aisling Daly) Of The Year.”
Apart from taking care of her daughter and teenage son, Celine has dedicated any spare time she has to her training in preparation for next weekend.
Over the past year she has travelled to Dublin twice to three times a week, dropping her children off to school, getting the bus to the capital, training until 10pm and then arriving back in Letterkenny at 2am to be there to get up in the morning and get the kids ready.
“When I leave the kids to school I get the bus which gets my into Dublin at 1pm and I go to Straight Blast Gym on Exchequer Street, which just opened in April, where all the fighters meet up and do a two-hour intense training session.”
After this Celine and the other fighters make their way to the other SBGi gym on the Long Mile Road where she starts boxing training with the knock out king, Conor McGregor.
“Family life continues as normal the next morning and I have to say I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of my parents, Rose and Bernard, and I am so grateful to them.
“Apart from my children, this has become my life – I love my training and the people I work with and I have been able to give it my all thanks to the support of my parents and friends.”
Because the training in Dublin is so intense, Celine likes to keep up the work when she is at home and who better than Paddy Toland of PT Kickboxing in Letterkenny to keep her in shape.
Celine said: “Paddy said I was more than welcome to come and train at the club and for a year now I have had the best sparring partners in Natalie McCarron and Emily Tracy.
“It’s brilliant to have someone like Paddy right here who knows what it takes to get to the highest level. He’s the King of Kickboxing as far as I am concerned,” she laughed.
Celine said it’s not easy for full-time carers to have some kind of ‘normal life’ outside of taking care of their loved ones. “Our government restricts us from the help that we need and with all the cutbacks lately it’s making life really difficult for a lot of carers. I just count myself really lucky to have help from family and close friends.
“The only advice I could give to other carers is any chance you get to get time out for yourself, take it! Don’t hesitate, a half an hour here and there to go for a walk or meet friends for lunch is better than nothing.
“Sometimes we get so caught up with caring for our loved ones that we forget to have quality time for ourselves. We even feel guilty about it, but if we’re not good to ourselves, nobody else is going to be,” said Celine.
This coming Saturday, June 11 is going to be one of the biggest nights in Celine’s life as an athlete as she gets a second, proper stab at a semi professional MMA fight with her SBGi debut.
Celine is facing Rachel Ryan (Tuatha Dé Danann) in the New C-Class division at Celtic Gladiator 2 ‘Clash Of The Giants’ in the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise.
“I don’t know much about Rachel and I am not too worried that the fight is on her home turf. It’s three years since I lost my first fight and I am a lot more confident now with all the professional training behind me.
“I have had one year of intense and hard training behind me and I have no doubt that I am going to come out on top in Portlaoise on Saturday night. And people should always remember age is only a number, we’re never too old to do something we really enjoy,” she said.
Celine’s daughter Nadine will also be right behind her.
“Nadine has been down to Straight Blast Gym with me on a number occasions when she’s off school or at weekends.
“She has met all the cage fighters of SBGi and really gets on well with them. The only thing she doesn’t like is John Kavanagh’s Tarantula spider,” she laughed.
We have no doubt there will be carers all over the county rooting Celine on and wishing her all the best. So go and kick some ass in Portlaoise for all the carers in Donegal, Celine!