The Kilkenny boxer rounded off a top campaign with more success as she was named Ireland’s top senior women’s elite fighter.
Grace, a member of the Callan boxing club, was honoured with her latest title by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) at their annual awards ceremony.
“The Elite Senior awards were the last prizes of the night,” Clare’s happy coach Jimmy Walsh told the ’People. “Katie Taylor was in the running for the prize, but I couldn’t believe it when they announced the winner of the women’s title was Clare Grace from the Callan boxing club.
“We were all waiting for Katie Taylor to stand up,” he added, “but when Clare’s name was called I let such a jump I nearly cleared the table!”
Earning those national plaudits was a fitting end to 2014 for Grace, who had her fair share of mixed fortunes along the way.
The highs saw her retain her Irish welterweight title. That was bettered only by her success at the Women’s European Championships in Bucharest, where she won a bronze medal.
However, dreams of a World medal were scuppered after she was forced to withdraw from the World Championships in Korea in November after sustaining a cut over her left eye in her win over Romania’s Cristina Stanc.
“Winning the award was a nice way to end year after the disappointment of injury at the World Championships,” said Walsh. “It was a fair cut - she had four stitches put in, but keyhole surgery means she’ll have no visible scar.
“The girl she would have met next was Kara Guluzar, a Turkish opponent she had already beaten at the European Championships, but the threat of her injury opening up meant she had to withdraw.
Ready for fight
“She was ready for that fight,” added Walsh. “A win there would have brought her into the medals - she was that close, but still so far away.”
Having shrugged off that disappointment, Grace is now fully focused on defending her Irish belt at the National Elite Championships in January.
“We’ve been training away over the Christmas in preparation for the finals,” said Walsh. “Clare, who is now eighth in the AIBA world rankings, will weigh in on January 9 when she goes for her fourth senior Elite title and her 11th Irish title overall.
“Clare got a great reception when she stood up to accept the award,” said Walsh. “She got such a shock when her name was called that we had to assure her that she had won it! After the bad luck in Korea it was a great end her year.”
Grace wasn’t the only good news story in a successful end to 2014 for Kilkenny sport.
Evergreen striker David Grincell ended the year on high after he was called up to the Republic of Ireland’s amateur squad for a friendly international in January.
Grincell, who is also captain of the Kilkenny & District League’s Oscar Traynor team, earned his place after a series of impressive performances in national competitions for club and county.