A SECOND-YEAR primary education student at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is on track for world domination in kickboxing.
Moyross native Hayleigh Kiely currently holds six national and international titles in kickboxing including the World Ring Sport Association Five Nations Kickboxing Championship title, the Irish Kickboxing Federation (IKF) Low Kick Champion title and 2 Gold Unified World medals.
She was recently honoured by MIC with an Award for Outstanding Achievement in recognition of her sporting achievements.
Kiely (19), from Cosgrave Park, started kickboxing when she was five and earned herself a black belt by the age of 13.
A turning point came for Hayleigh when she fought for her first Irish title back in 2016, which she lost on a close decision.
“That’s when I became hungrier and I thought you know what I’m actually going to do this, I want to win a title,” Hayleigh told Limerick Voice.
“When I won my first Irish title in 2017, I knew that was the start of it. That’s when I said here I am.”
A typical day for Hayleigh sees her in college at 9am until 5pm before coaching the junior kickboxing class at 6pm followed by the gym afterwards to train until 8.30pm.
Her coach Paul said: “I have to kick her out of the gym some nights.”
“Next year I want to get a chance at a European title and then on to bigger world titles and eventually professional fighting,” Hayleigh said.
Another Moyross champion kickboxer bringing title belts home is Tyrone Cronin O’Brien.
According to their coach and Tyrone’s father, Paul Cronin, the two are “only scratching the surface of what they are capable of.”
Cronin O’Brien (20), from Sarsfield Park, was in and out of the sport during his teenage years.
From the age of seventeen, he committed himself to a rigorous regime.
He is now an IKF K1 Champion, an IKF Low Kick Irish a Champion and a Unified World Kickboxing Gold medallist.
“When I was competing at their age, I had commitment – but I didn’t have the dedication that they have,” their coach admitted. “That is something special.”
Both Kiely and Cronin O’Brien are used to being greeted by local fans in Moyross who want selfies and chats.
“I was walking to training last week and some young lad around nine or ten just came over and hugged me,” Cronin O’Brien said.
Both kickboxers are heavily involved in the Learning Hub Kickboxing Club where the kids look up to the pair, with some of the young girls to be seen emulating Kiely’s plaits.
Kiely has been assisting her coach with training the junior kickboxing classes since she was fourteen.
“I enjoy passing my skills and knowledge on to a younger generation because it was other people, like Paul, who passed that onto me,” she said.
“They all look up to me because I’m from the local community as well.”
The Moyross community has been extremely supportive of the pair.
When the two were fighting in Waterford, a busload of supporters from the area went along wearing t-shirts emblazoned with their names.
Kiely gave a shoutout to the Moyross Bingo Club who she said is always there to cover whatever she needs.
“I think our community really sticks together when somebody’s doing well,” she said.
Limerick Voice 2019 newspaper is available today in all copies of the Limerick Leader.