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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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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.

Performance

Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at mike@theislandinvestor.com.

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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]

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By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.

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