Ireland Single Scullers Puspure and Pazzaia Win Heats

The prospects of adding more boats to the six already qualified for Paris 2024 look very good after the first day of the Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland. Sanita Puspure and Konan Pazzaia both won their heats of the single sculls, while the women’s four took second in their preliminary race.
Puspure, seen here with her coach Ashlee Rowe, is focused on reaching her fourth Olympic Games. She started her campaign in eye-catching fashion: a clear-water winner in the fastest time of the three heats. Two more races of this ilk and she is off to Paris.
Konan Pazzaia (below) also led his race from early on and won. At just 23, he is fairly new to this level. But coming out of a high-achieving programme, he must know that if he can reproduce this form – fifth fastest on a day of five heats – through Monday’s quarter-finals and semi-finals he could make Tuesday’s A Final. And once there he would be in with a shout of the top-two place which will qualify him for the Games.
The women’s four of Imogen Magner, Eimear Lambe, Natalie Long and Emily Hegarty took second in their preliminary race. The Denmark crew swept into the lead and then saw and raised the Irish as they tried to catch the red boat. These two fours were well ahead of the other crews until the closing stages,  and with two boats qualifying from a straight final on Tuesday, holding or bettering this position will be good enough for the Ireland women’s four to again grace the Olympic stage.

Cremen Races to European Silver

Ireland’s Margaret Cremen, racing for her first time at top international level in the lightweight single sculls, brought Ireland a silver medal at the European Championships in Szeged in Hungary.
The cross headwind and bobbly water meant the scullers had to grit it out, but Cremen is a competitor. Alena Furman, a Belarussian racing in neutral grey, stamped her authority on the race. She left the field behind in the second quarter and raced to gold. Cremen maintained her lone challenge – she was almost seven seconds clear of third-placed Kristyna Neuhortova of the Czech Republic crossing the line.
Cremen said she missed having her companion in the lightweight double, Aoife Casey, who had to pull out due to illness, leaving Cremen to take on the non-Olympic event.
The three other Ireland crews fell outside the medal rankings. The double of Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin – who has come back from injury – finished fifth, while lightweight single sculler Jake McCarthy did not reproduce the form which saw him win his heat and was sixth in his final.
Paul O’Donovan was second in his B Final of the heavyweight single sculls. It was a finish in the top half of a new event to him – necessitated also by the absence of his lightweight doubles partner, Fintan McCarthy.

O’Donovan Capsizes and Finishes Fifth in Heavy Semi-Final

Paul O’Donovan lost his balance in the boat and capsized before the second semi-final of the heavyweight single sculls at the European Championship in Szeged in Hungary.
He climbed back into the boat and raced – well. At the head of the field, Sverri Nielsen of Denmark and Giderius Bieliauskas of Lithuania raced for first and finished in that order. O’Donovan fought Britain’s George Bourne and Mihai Chiruta of Romania for the remaining A Final place. The big Briton did the job and O’Donovan faded back a little in the final quarter to take fifth.
The cross-head wind was tricky, and the lane draw was altered: the first three boats in both of the semi-finals came from the more sheltered lanes one to three. Oli Zeidler of Germany won the first semi.

Sunday’s Schedule, Irish interest (open to revision)
9.03 Men’s Single Sculls, B Final (Paul O’Donovan)
10.35 Lightweight Men’s Single, A Final (Jake McCarthy)
10.47 Lightweight Women’s Single, Final (Margaret Cremen)
12.24 Women’s Double, A Final (Alison Bergin, Zoe Hyde)

O’Donovan Wins His Way into Heavyweight Semi-Finals

Paul O’Donovan won his repechage with plenty to spare to qualify for the A/B semi-finals of the heavyweight single sculls at the European Championships in Szeged in Hungary today.
The Ireland Olympic medallist and Emil Neykov of Bulgaria caught hold of the two qualification places and then battled for the winning spot. O’Donovan took this by sculling away from Neykov. The placing was worth it – Neykov will take on Oli Zeidler in his semi-final, while O’Donovan will take his place in the second semi-final, at 10.50 Irish time on Saturday.
Zoe Hyde (pictured) and Alison Bergin secured their place in Sunday’s A Final of the women’s double. They finished second to Romania in the repechage.

Jake McCarthy Wins as O’Donovan Takes on Heavy Task

Paul O’Donovan faces into a repechage on Friday at the European Rowing Championships in Szeged in Hungary – a novel challenge, made understandable by the fact that he is competing in the heavyweight single sculls.
Fintan McCarthy is unavailable – as is Aoife Casey – so the two Ireland lightweight doubles have withdrawn.
O’Donovan took third in his heat and will compete in a repechage at 10.40 (Irish time) on Friday. A placing of first or second sees him into the A/B semi-final.
Fintan McCarthy (pictured) won his heat of the lightweight single, and qualified directly for the A Final on Sunday. Margaret Cremen, usually in the lightweight double with Casey, took the chance of competing in the lightweight single. She finished second in a demonstration race behind Alena Furman, a Belarussian competing under a neutral flag. The two have the best lanes in Sunday’s A Final.
Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin took second in their heat of the double sculls. If they place in the top four of their repechage on Friday (10.03 Irish time) they go to the Final.

Podium Finishes for Ireland Women’s Pair and Men’s Double

Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh (above) overcame initial steering difficulties to take a superb silver behind the Netherlands in the women’s pair at the World Cup regatta in Varese, Italy. And Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle added a second medal, a bronze, in the men’s double.
At half way in the women’s race it was the Danes who were the closest challengers to the Netherlands, with Ireland fourth, behind Britain in third.
Once Keogh and Murtagh pulled it together, they passed Britain and then Denmark before pushing up to less than a length behind the gold medallists at the end.
Lynch and Doyle were happy with their start, but they were fourth at half way. The Netherlands led from Italy, and Germany looked the hot tip for the bronze. Lynch called for a big push earlier than planned, and coming to the line Ireland passed the Germans and closed on the Dutch and Italians.
The Ireland women’s four of Imogen Magner, Eimear Lambe, Natalie Long and Emily Hegarty also had to make up a deficit in the second 1,000 metres of their A Final. However, the new crew had to come from sixth and while they passed Denmark and a Britain Three crew this lifted them to fourth, with Britain One and Two and the Netherlands filling the podium places.
Sanita Puspure also gave herself a lot to do in her single sculls final: she finished fifth, over 15 seconds behind the outstanding Karolien Florijn of the Netherlands, who took gold.
Two Ireland crews had B Final wins: the men’s pair of Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney and single sculler Konan Pazzaia. The men’s four fell to third in their B Final.

A Final Places for Doyle and Lynch and for Puspure

Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch (above) eased their way into the A Final of double sculls at the second time of asking with a fine win in their repechage at the World Cup regatta in Varese today. Two crews would go on to join the Netherlands and Italy in the medal race, and Lynch and Doyle took and then held the lead right through. They let Australia One and Britain fight it out behind them – Australia’s Oscar McGuinness and Mitchell Reinhard won that battle.
Sanita Puspure also reached Sunday’s A Final, but the Ireland single sculler’s route was very different. Norway’s Inger Seim Kavlie dominated this semi-final, and Puspure’s push came late – she took second with a very fast final 500 metres.
As with the men’s double, the big tip for gold in the women’s single is the Dutch crew; in this case Karolien Florijn, who won the first semi-final in a fast time, looking untroubled.
Two other Ireland crews go for gold on Sunday: the women’s pair (Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh) in a straight six-boat race, and the new-look women’s four, which were such impressive winners of their heat on Friday.
Three Ireland crews slipped into B Finals in Saturday’s action.
The Ireland men’s pair have struggled with illness (Ross Corrigan had Covid in January) and a more recent injury suffered by Nathan Timoney. They finished third in their repechage, with the top two going to the A Final.
The men’s four looked in contention for the vital top-two spot in their repechage in the middle stages of their repechage. But it was Ukraine who powered through to take second behind the Netherlands, with Ireland back in fourth.
Konan Pazzaia did not lack for spirit in his semi-final of the single sculls. As Oli Zeidler showed his muscles at the front, Pazzaia hung in there in a battle with the Netherlands and Britain for a top-three place. He could not quite close it out, and was fourth.
Brian Colsh had finished his programme in the single with a second-place finish in the C Final, 14th overall.

Women’s Four and Puspure Win Heats at World Cup

The Ireland women’s four and single sculler Sanita Puspure opened their campaign for the season with heat wins at the World Cup in Varese, Italy, today.
The new combination in the four of Imogen Magner, Eimear Lambe, Natalie Long and Emily Hegarty (above) came from behind to beat the Netherlands, the world champions, in a stirring finish to their heat. This Ireland crew now looks set to compete at the Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne in May – with real hopes of heading for Paris.
Puspure has similar ambitions in the single. She produced a fine final 500 metres to produce the second fastest time in the heats, behind Karolien Florijn of the Netherlands, a hot tip for gold in Varese.
Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch in the men’s double had to settle for second in their heat and face into a repechage. The women’s pair of Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh also took second in a race for lanes – with just six crews competing, there will be a straight final on Sunday.
Nathan Timoney and Ross Corrigan placed fourth in their heat of the men’s pair and must take first or second in their repechage to make the A Final. The men’s four also face into a repechage after placing fifth in their heat.
Konan Pazzaia came through both the heat and the quarter-finals of the single sculls to qualify for the semis, but Brian Colsh missed out and will compete in the C Final on Saturday.

UCD Justify Favourites Tag in Colours Races

It was a day of wickedly changeable weather, but there was no alteration in the pattern at the Colours Races on the Liffey today. UCD came in as favourites for the big prizes, and so it proved.
UCD’s senior men secured the Gannon Cup, their fourth in-a-row (albeit with a Covid break in 2020 and 2021). In a torrential downpour, they fashioned an early lead and effectively burnt off the Trinity challenge by half-way.
There was pathos in the win, as the crew wore a Roscommon badge in memory of coach Martin Feeley, who died last December. Feeley represented Ireland at the Olympic Games and won a Ladies’ Plate with UCD at Henley. But it was as a coach these young men remembered him and his death was a blow. “It is a huge loss,” said Paul Flood, in the number five seat on the day. UCD are now just one shy of Trinity’s 36 Gannon Cup wins.
As expected, Trinity started well in the Corcoran Cup for senior women. But their opponents in blue and saffron covered it and then laid down the pattern which the men would follow, pushing into a good lead in the middle of the race. Sarah Daly, the stroke woman, and her twin Alison, in the seven seat, were winning their third Corcoran Cups.
The sole win for Trinity came in the novice men’s race, and it followed the template of the day; passing the Four Courts, the eventual winners were set fair for the win. UCD’s novice women also won well in a race which went off early – another pattern for the day.
The pattern in the Boat Races on the Thames was so very different: Cambridge came from behind to win an excellent women’s race – with huge credit due to cox Hannah Murphy. The men’s race was also a good battle … and Cambridge also won.

Colours Races 2024

Gannon Cup (senior men’s eight): UCD (D Crooks, S Daly, A Carroll, C Conway, P Flood, R Mason, E McGrath, D Murray; cox R Nelson) bt Trinity.
Corcoran Cup (senior women’s eight): UCD (N Campbell, J Farrell, N Allison, T Phelan, D O’Brien, L Roche, A Daly, S Daly; cox L Ryan) bt Trinity.
Novice Men (Dan Quinn Shield): Trinity bt UCD.
Novice Women (Sally Moorhead Trophy): UCD bt Trinity.

Commercial Men’s Eight Fastest at Erne Head

Commercial’s men’s senior eight (above) were the fastest on the day at the Erne Head of the River on Saturday. Trinity’s senior eight (pictured below)  were the fastest women’s crew.
There was snow in Enniskillen on Friday, but Saturday had different tests. The women’s head was preceded by a heavy shower and both men’s and women’s crews had to deal with a stiff headwind.
Commercial covered the course in a competitive 19 minutes and 11.2 seconds. St Joseph’s won the junior 18 men’s category, while Neptune’s junior 16 crew recorded an impressive time.
The women competitors had to deal with trickier conditions, but it did not deter Trinity, who looked good in their win in 22 minutes 25.4 seconds. Enniskillen’s junior 18 eight placed a very good third, in 22:47.2.
The organisers of Cork head of the river had to change the start of the second fixed head because of a sad incident, unconnected to the event, in which a car drove into the river. This made judging the winners of the categories a very difficult process, and results were slow in coming out.
Shandon’s men’s masters eight had done well in the first head, while Waterford’s junior 18 women’s quad were clocked marginally ahead of the UCC women’s senior quad as the fastest of the women’s crews.