'She doesn't know her own strength' — How Lisa O'Rourke rumbles in the ring and for the Rossies

The 20-year-old boxer will fight for a historic gold in Istanbul on Thursday but she has already claimed silverware on the GAA pitch in recent times too
'She doesn't know her own strength' — How Lisa O'Rourke rumbles in the ring and for the Rossies

The gloves are off: Boxer Lisa O'Rourke, right, celebrates with fellow Roscommon players Natalie McHugh and Mikaela McHugh after the Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 3 Final match between Roscommon and Wexford at St Brendan's Park in Birr, Offaly. 

Boxing may be Lisa O'Rourke’s first sporting love but Ladies Football comes a close second.

O'Rourke today defeated home favourite Sema Caliskan to advance to a gold medal bout at the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Istanbul. Now guaranteed at least silver, she will face Helena Alcinda Panguane of Mozambique in the 70kg final on Thursday evening.

But it wouldn’t be the first medal she has claimed this year.

A star for Castlerea St Kevin's, O’Rourke made her Roscommon LGFA senior debut in 2020 against Offaly and was a member of the side which won the National League Division 3 title in Birr last April.

A quirky Question and Answers section on the Roscommon LGFA Facebook page offered a snapshot of her love of both sports with the 20-year-old admitting that “in ten years time I hope to be an All-Ireland football champion with Roscommon and a boxing Olympian.” 

Roscommon manager Ollie Lennon, who took charge last November, heaped praise on O’Rourke’s commitment to the game as she juggles her international boxing commitments.

“She came in with us and was a starter through the National League. She missed the semi-final against Kildare but played against Wexford in the final. She played one game in the Connacht championship against Leitrim before turning her attention back to boxing," said Lennon.

“We are all looking forward to having her home and back for our All-Ireland series games against Kildare and Longford next month."

Centre field and centre ring: Lisa O'Rourke of Ireland celebrates victory over Sema Caliskan of Turkey in their Light Middleweight 70kg semi-final bout during the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships 2022 at the Basaksehir Sports Complex in Istanbul, Turkey. Pic: Sportsfile
Centre field and centre ring: Lisa O'Rourke of Ireland celebrates victory over Sema Caliskan of Turkey in their Light Middleweight 70kg semi-final bout during the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships 2022 at the Basaksehir Sports Complex in Istanbul, Turkey. Pic: Sportsfile

He continued: “Lisa is what modern footballers need to be - a pure athlete.

“She plays predominantly at midfield or centre back and is just relentless in terms of getting up and down the field. She is a fabulous player. But a couple of times in games, her reputation (as a boxer) has come against her. She is just so physically strong that she is often unfairly punished in matches. For example she was very unlucky to be sin-binned against Wexford. She simply doesn’t know her own strength and the game itself and the rules of the game struggles sometimes with such physicality.” 

But Lennon is as impressed by the person as by the player.

“She is brilliant to have around the squad. She has a wonderful way about her," he said.

“I’ll give you an example. She was going on a training camp ahead of these championships and a few days before her departure the players and management wished her well. But then she turned up to training the night before she was due to fly out for the camp!

“She is really, really grounded and we are all delighted that she is getting the recognition she deserves. We hope that she has continued success in her fight tomorrow and that she comes back fit and healthy for our run in the All-Ireland series.”

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