Not even a split-decision defeat could dim the enthusiasm of Donna Barr at the Ulster Elite finals last night.

By Chris McNulty, ringside at the Ulster Hall

The Illies Golden Gloves woman fell on the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision to Canal ABC’s Chloe Fleck in tonight’s Ulster Elite light-flyweight final at the Ulster Hall.

It was a bout that could have swung either way and may well have been decided by that moment, in the third round, when a long right from Fleck staggered Barr and referee Aideen Floyd began to count.

Barr dusted herself down, seeming bemused by the call, and got to work again.

Barr began well in the opening round and had the edge of the opening stanza with Fleck having headguard issues.

Fleck – who was edged by Kristina O’Hara in the last version of these Championships in late-2018 – stormed off the stool for the second round and caught Barr with one clever left.

Barr, however, conjured up a stirring riposte, but became embroiled in a second-round scrap that was perhaps to her detriment.

After almost three years of injury hell, Barr was looking on the bright side of life.

“I can’t find it in me to be upset,” Barr, who has suffered hip, knee and hand injuries of late, told Donegal Woman after the bout.

“Many people don’t get a chance to come back and go again.

“It’s hard to be down when you get to do something that you really enjoy. I thought six months ago that.”

A 4-1 semi-final win over Emma Feeney a week-and-a-half ago catapulted Barr under the bright lights once more.

Barr has been suffering a bout of ‘flu since mid-week, but has vowed to come back stronger ahead of a tilt at the National Elites next month in Dublin.

It has been the longest of long roads back for Barr, who has endured more than her fair share of agony since losing an Irish Elite decider to Lauren Hogan in 2015.

Even in spite of her woes, Barr is an experienced international, whose cv includes a bout at the 2016 World Championships, when she lost out to Canadian Kim Klavel.

Since being edged by Hogan four springs ago – and even before that bout – Barr has made no secret of her utter desire to capture an Irish title.

She said: “I could have had this – but I’ll go get it in Dublin. These fights will stand to me. I’m taking 100 per cent positives from this.”