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Determination and dedication helps Leah secure another boxing title




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.


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!



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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