BY CHRIS MCNULTY
SINCE she arrived back from a defeat to Amy Broadhurst in the National Open Youths in January, Austeja Auciute had only one thing on her mind.
Last Saturday, the Finn Valley ABC woman scooped the ninth Irish title of her career, defeating Ciara Sheedy in the Under-18 64kgs final.
Over the last five months, Auciute has been driven by the pain of that defeat to Broadhurst, which deprived her of a possible place at the Youth Olympics in China.
Each morning she woke with a familiar sight in her gaze. All around her room in Glenview Park, she had dotted pieces of paper, each with a familiar message: ‘All-Ireland Champion 2014’.
Sheedy, a European silver medalist last year, proved an awkward opponent at The National Stadium, but Auciute realised her dream.
“This means the world,” she said afterwards.
“It’s my life, boxing. It’s what I dedicate myself to. It’s what I live for.
“I was so hungry for this final. After the defeat in January I was training twice as hard. My diet, my sleeping, everything has been right since then.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight – any day you’re up against a European silver medalist isn’t going to be easy. I knew that she was a good girl.”
When the announcement came, after a nervous wait following a gruelling eight minutes, the red corner erupted. For Billy Quigley, Auciute’s coach, it was just rewards for the golden girl of the Finn Valley.
“Coming back from defeats makes champions,” he said.
“Look at the way she’s come back and she’s now the nine-times Irish champion. That defeat by Broadhurst made her. It gave her real hunger.
“She’s one of the most dedicated boxers you’ll ever see. She was at my door on Friday evening at quarter to six, fifteen minutes early, and it’s the same every night for training. She trains hard and puts the effort in.
“We were focussed on the job. We had a brilliant training camp with great sparring, pad work, bag work and the road work. We were down the road with no excuses.”
Auciute, a student at St Columba’s College in Stranorlar, began her Leaving Certificate exams on Wednesday. After her final on Saturday she said: “I haven’t been doing much study, my head’s been so focussed on the boxing. I’ll get the head down now for the Leaving Cert and hopefully do well.”
Her coach believes that Auciute, another star turn of the yellow and black-clad club, can reach the top.
He said: “The sky’s the limit. It’s the same with big Michael Gallagher. If they keep their head, keep training, they can go places. They’re tough years, at 18 or 19 years of age.”
Darryl Moran bid the Under-18 grade a fond farewell, claiming the title at 49kgs after beating Old School, Monaghan’s Stephen McKenna.
Moran overcame Carndonagh’s Liam Callaghan 3-0 in a semi-final on Friday night and blitzed into action in Saturday’s final. Moran was the unanimous victor, taking a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 verdict on the score cards.
Like Auciute, he put in the hard miles. As well as a fight in Belfast and another in Monaghan, Moran also fought at a tournament with the Kincorth BC in Fraserburgh, Scotland when the Illies club visited.
Coach Eamonn Duffy said: “He has put in a lot of work. He’s been training twice a day – not bad when you think he’s at college in Letterkenny all day every day too.”
It was yet another title for the Moran household.
Brother Leigh Moran already has five All-Ireland wins while Darryl entered this competition having had four previous titles to his name. In the recent Boy 4 finals, young brother John added his name to the list for the first time.
Also last week, there were final defeats for Dungloe’s Mark McCole and Letterkenny’s Michael McConigley.
McConigley entered the 91+kgs final with Aaron Kelly (Mount Tallant) as the favourite having beaten Sean Maher (Spartacus) in Friday’s semi-final, but the big Letterkenny man lost out to Kelly, who took a 2-1 decision. McConigley, the quarter-final winner against Terence Ward of the Bluestack club last weekend, just couldn’t find the rhythm and it was Kelly who emerged with the title.
However, the big Cathedral town man’s frustrations were understandable when it emerged that he would have taken a 3-2 win on the cards were all five judges’ scores used. Instead, the lottery went against him.
At 64kgs, McCole again missed out at the final stage, losing out to Holy Family’s Martin Stokes.
Burdened by a bout of flu in the last fortnight, McCole had beaten Francis Barrett (Olympic) in Friday’s semi-final, but was out of wind in the final and couldn’t find the gears at all. “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t give it our all, but the thing about the finals is that you just can’t delay them because of a flue,” said Jim McCole, Mark’s father and coach.
Meanwhile, Carrigart ABC’s Maeve McCarron scored a walkover win in the women’s 81+kgs division.