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Determination and dedication helps Leah secure another boxing title

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Boxing was the word on the tip of everyone's tongues over the weekend, particularly women’s boxing and the undisputed world lightweight championship Katie Taylor’s fight with Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden in New York.

FAMILY: Victorious All-Ireland Girl3 66kg boxing champion Leah Sheehan pictured at her home with her stepdad Mike mom Teresa and little brother Nathan. Photo: Marie Carroll-O'Sullivan

Leah Sheehan pictured with her family on a canvas which met me at the front door.

It was another fantastic achievement in her monumental career. 10 rounds of courage, determination, skill and stamina, not to mention the massive role model she is to young Irish boxers oozing positivity and gratitude throughout. I had also been carefully watching online updates of Mike and Teresa’s Leah who has always been a ‘knockout’ behind my lens since the first day I met her. I was delighted to see their family portrait hanging when I arrived.

Killarney Community College student Leah Sheehan, a member of Johnny and Jennifer Coffey’s Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club, enjoyed a similar boxing victory taking home gold as the newly crowned ‘All-Ireland Girl3 66kg Champion’ at the National Stadium in Dublin last Friday having defeated Leah Moore, Ballybough, Dublin. The boxing club brought home three gold medals in 2021, and Leah increased this to four in 2022. Gold medalists from Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club were also Mary McDonagh, Michelle McDonagh, Jamesie Casey and a silver medal went to Sean O’Riordan.

“If you want something bad you have to work hard for it," Leah said. "I train six days a week and followed a strictly balanced protein diet to build and maintain as I trained. Katie Taylor has done so much for women’s boxing. She is a huge role model and boxing wouldn’t be where it is today without her. She is a massive role model. She inspires me.”

Leah and I chatted a little about Katie and recalled how Katie once fought disguised as a boy just so she could compete. Mum Teresa arrived with a cupán tae.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mother," Leah continued. "Everyday she prepared different variations of turkey, chicken, rice and veg, together with two litres of water per day to help me with the cleanest diet to improve my performance.”

Teresa smiled.

“Marie, it was the hardest thing to enjoy an Easter Egg or any treat for that matter in the build up to Leah’s fight but she was determined and didn’t complain once,” Teresa replied. “Training first Marie. It’s what I want so it’s what I had to do to achieve my goals,” Leah explained.

DEDICATION

At 14 only just, I admired Leah’s determination and dedication and I could see from the way she spoke that she was truly passionate about boxing.

“Leah, what was the food you most craved while you trained?" I had to ask. “Pizza! I couldn’t wait for a slice of pizza so we went out and ordered one to take away. Having craved it for so long, you can imagine my face when it was accidentally dropped on the floor and another one was put on immediately. Every minute I waited I felt it Marie,” Leah laughed.

“At my level of boxing my fight was just three rounds, each round for one and a half minutes and it went for three full rounds. My weight is 66kg but I want to move down to 63kg to gain more experience of competitions. I know my fantastic coaches Johnny Coffey, Jake Kelly and Mikey Broderick will help me with that when I return next week and it’s onwards from there hopefully. I really want to succeed. I was also lucky enough to do some strength and conditioning with pro boxer Kevin Cronin in the month leading up to my fight. I really enjoyed that also. Marie can I please say thank you to Davy and Catrina Corkery who are great as our main sponsor, Kingdom Truck & Trailer?"

Mike, Leah’s stepdad, told me about the next steps for Leah. I was distracted a little as she beamed and hung on every word Mike said about her future in boxing. Leah wanted this so bad, this was very clear.

“Next up in June is the National Cadets Competition. If Leah succeeds, she will become part an elite high performance training which in turn will lead to boxing for the Irish team and the possibility of being selected to go to Turkey to represent Ireland in the European Championship,” Mike explained.

Teresa added, “Marie, no one should be thanked more than Mike for the guidance and support he has given Leah on this journey."

Leah continued “He’s travelled the length and breath of the country for me and it’s definitely brought us closer than we ever were before.”

“Leah, how do you feel when you realised that you’d won? What did you do?” I asked. “The first thing I did was phone my Grandad Liam O’Connell. I loved his words Marie. He said "Leah you are my hero. I am very proud of you and I love you so much"," Leah replied.

Congratulations and the very best of luck in June Leah Sheehan, the brand new All-Ireland Girl3 66kg champion! It was my pleasure to snap this ‘knockout’ yet again!

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Donaghy’s move to Roscommon “absolute rubbish”

By Sean Moriarty Kieran Donaghy has labelled news reports that he is to become the manager of the Roscommon football team as “absolute rubbish”. Several news outlets, including locally based […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Kieran Donaghy has labelled news reports that he is to become the manager of the Roscommon football team as “absolute rubbish”.

Several news outlets, including locally based media, ran stories on Monday night saying the four-time All-Ireland was set to take over as the Roscommon boss.

Almost as quick as the news reports were published Donaghy took to Twitter to correct them.

“Absolute rubbish,” he tweeted.

“I did not speak to one single person associated with Roscommon GAA. What has happened to fact checking a story these days.”

Donaghy has been part of the Armagh county set-up for the last two seasons. He is also preparing for another season in the Irish Basketball Superleague with Tralee Warriors at the age of 39.

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How to boost your immune system with nutrition

By Tara Tangney from Activate Fitness The immune system is precisely that — a system. To function well, it requires stability. While there is no magic bullet for increasing immunity, […]

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By Tara Tangney from Activate Fitness

The immune system is precisely that — a system. To function well, it requires stability.

While there is no magic bullet for increasing immunity, there are ways to keep your immune system strong so that you are better prepared to fight off infections and heal quickly.

As long as your immune system is running smoothly, you don’t notice that it’s there, but if it stops working properly – because it’s weak or can’t fight particularly aggressive germs – you get ill.

Without an immune system, we would have no way to fight harmful things that enter our body from the outside or harmful changes that occur inside our body. Here are five ways to ensure you support a good immune system coming into the wintery months:

1. Eat More Vegetables

While all vegetables have health benefits, some pack a more powerful immune-boosting punch than others. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in fibre, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and tomatoes are rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), which helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections.

2. Eat Balanced Meals

Include all macronutrients in your meals. Protein is particularly important for healing and recovery. Protein sources include leaner sources of meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, beans, soy, nuts and seeds. These foods are also good sources of zinc, a mineral that promotes healthy immune function and aids in wound healing. Healthy fats are also essential to support our immune health. Try to include a variety of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your daily diet. These are found in avocados, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These foods provide good fats but are also rich in phytonutrients and fat-soluble vitamins. For example, a small handful of nuts such as almonds is a great source of vitamin E. Wild-caught salmon is one of the only foods naturally rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish are also rich in essential fats called omega-3s, which are known for their multiple health benefits.

3. Regular Exercise

Exercise is one of the main aspects that support a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise promotes cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and offers protection against a variety of diseases. And just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to a healthy immune system, improves blood circulation allowing immune system cells to move through the body more freely and do their job more effectively.

4. Good Quality Sleep

Getting enough sleep has many health benefits. The lack of sleep puts your body into ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing adrenaline and increased stress hormones into the body. Research shows that in general, adults need at least seven hours of sleep for optimal health and well-being. As we sleep our immune system works to heal and repair the body. A few tips for getting a good night’s sleep include avoiding caffeine in the evenings, turning off your screens (TV, laptop, phones, etc.) well before bedtime and sleeping in a cool, dark room.

5. Manage Your Stress

You may not often think about how stress affects your ability to fight off infection, but your state of mind can have a significant impact on your health. When you are experiencing more stress, your immunity is compromised, which puts you at a higher risk of getting sick. Managing stress may help you fight germs and infections. Stress management techniques include breath work, meditation, yoga, moderate exercise, walking etc. Having a support system of close friends and family can also help us feel connected and stay strong throughout stressful times.

Although there is no magical potion for immunity, you can take these five steps to boost your immune system which is very important as we enter the colder and darker mornings of winter. Don’t underestimate your lifestyle’s impact on your ability to help keep your immune system strong. Good nutrition, quality sleep, and managing stress can all have a significant impact on your health. If you need help with your nutrition, send us an email at nutrition@activate.ie and we will be happy to help you!

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