An up and coming Longford boxer, who only took up the sport a matter of months ago, is on the brink of national stardom after sealing a place in the All Ireland National Novice Championships.
In a story akin to Holywood blockbuster 'Rocky Balboa', Newtownforbes light heavyweight, Noel Murphy, is hoping to build on his new found success when he goes toe to toe with Dublin's Karl O'Donnell in a much anticipated semi final clash at Tallaght's National Stadium on Friday night.
A member of Longford Boxing Club, Murphy stormed through the preliminary rounds last weekend when seeing off Paul Higgins (St Anne's, Westport) 6-1 in his first competitive bout before edging out Phibsboro's James McKee in a tense quarter final encounter.
After opening up a 4-1 cushion at the end of two rounds, Murphy looked on course for a comfortable victory over Higgins thanks to some well placed hooks and sound defensive work. However, a rousing two minute spell in the third round, the Dubliner stormed back to level the contest at 4-4. But Murphy's high fitness levels and ability to open up Higgins at crucial times proved decisive, allowing the Longford man to ease to an 8-6 win.
"He is very fast and very fit," his trainer Gerry Rehill said this week. "He had no fights at all going into this (tournament) which is a great achievement.
Under the watchful eye of Rehill, Bernard 'Doc' Doherty and Barry Kilemade from Longford Boxing Club, Murphy's rise to prominence is all the more extraordinary given that the novice section allows fighters who have had up to 12 bouts at amateur level take part.
So far this year, the club which runs Tuesday and Thursday evening sessions for amateur boxers at its gym on Little Water Street, has over 20 boxers on its books including four female fighters.
A Wednesday night meeting is also available to individuals who prefer just to keep in shape.