Clonmel's Ellie Mai Gartland is crowned European Junior Boxing champion

Eamonn Wynne

Reporter:

Eamonn Wynne

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ewynne@nationalist.ie

Ellie Mai Gartland

Ellie Mai Gartland on the podium at Anapa, Russia, this morning, Tuesday, after she won the 54kgs European Junior Boxing title

Clonmel is today celebrating the success of young boxer Ellie Mai Gartland, who has won a gold medal at the European Junior Championships in Russia.

Ellie Mai, a Leaving Cert student at the Presentation Secondary School, beat her Romanian opponent Maria Gheorghe on a unanimous decision in the 54kgs final at the championships, which are being held at Anapa, on the northern coast of the Black Sea.  

According to a delighted Martin Fennessy, coach at Clonmel Boxing Club, the bantam weight "boxed out of her skin" to claim European glory.

"I don't cry very often but I admit I had tears in my eyes watching that fight this morning", says Martin.

He is thrilled with what he described as the Clonmel club's greatest success, as it's the first time that a club boxer has won a full European title.

"Ellie Mai won all her bouts at the European championships on unanimous decisions and has been absolutely brilliant", he says. 

"She has worked so hard and the sacrifices she has made to reach this level have been unbelievable", he said.

The Presentation school in Clonmel came to a standstill on Tuesday morning as students and staff watched the European final on big screens, and there was great excitement when she was crowned European champion.

Ellie Mai's European victory has been the crowning glory of a year during which she has been unbeaten in all 18 of her fights at home and abroad. 

The 16 year-old, the daughter of Sharon and Raymond, was already guaranteed a silver medal before she stepped into the ring this morning.

But the Clonmel teenager, a three-times Irish champion, was determined to go all the way, having won her first two bouts at the championships, in which males and females competed in separate categories.

She had a comprehensive 5-0 win over Bulgaria's Eva Porumnova in the quarter-final before getting the better of England's Sameenah Toussaint in Monday's semi-final.

It was the second time she had beaten the English boxer in a matter of weeks, after defeating her in last month's Senior Cadet international held in Edenderry, Co. Offaly. 

On that occasion, in a unique family and Clonmel Boxing Club double, Ellie Mai and her twin brother Jerome Lonergan Gartland became the first male and female twins to box for Ireland. 

Jerome, who's also an Irish champion, also won his contest, beating English champion Billy Adams on a 4-1 decision.

Her European success is the icing on the cake of what has already been a hugely successful year for Ellie Mai. 

On the domestic scene she won two Irish titles in the space of three months, a fantastic double that began in May when she won the Girls Under 15 title, beating Niamh Fay, Swords in the final. 

She followed that up by convincingly beating Shelby Myers, Crumlin on a 4-1 decision in the final to capture the Girls Senior Cadet Championship (Under 17) at the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin. 

Ellie Mai may be far away from home today but people throughout Clonmel and Tipperary are rejoicing at her success, and she is guaranteed a hero's welcome when she returns home on Thursday.