The Irish Indoor Rowing Championships in Limerick saw Katie O’Brien (pictured) and Denis Crowley set new world records, while Holly Davis minted a new Irish junior women’s mark.
Galway woman O’Brien had a wonderful World Championships last year, winning the PR2 single sculls, and she duly added the world record to her list of achievements, recording 7 minutes 56.5 seconds. She had considered missing the event due to sinus trouble.
Crowley, who has a remarkable record in the World Masters Championships – he has more than 30 medals – became the fastest lightweight man over 60 with a time of 6:40.9.
Davis, who turned 18 in January, targeted the Irish record for junior women and beat it well, with 6.56.1. She says her year will be built around the Leaving Cert and – hopefully – competing at the World Junior Championships. She won a bronze medal at the World Juniors in 2021. The Lee Valley woman is pictured below with coaches Noel Monaghan and Ross O’Donovan.
Andrew O’Leary won the men’s junior title in Limerick, while Donagh Claffey took the Under-23 honours. Michael Hourihane of Skibbereen was the fastest on the day. The big man won the men’s open class in a time of 6:02.5.
University of Limerick rowers Caoimhe O’Sullivan, who is under-23, and Kate Healy topped the women’s rankings, with times of 7:10.1 and 7:10.5, while Siobhan McCrohan of Tribesmen was the fastest lightweight woman in a good time of 7:13.1.
The rescheduling of the event saw many of the top Ireland internationals ruled out, and while Gary O’Donovan was entered in the men’s lightweight class he withdrew. He has been suffering from a foot injury.
A third Irish boat has completed this season’s Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. Solo oarsman Jamie Carr, who is a coach with Manchester City football club, made it three out of three when he rowed into English Harbour in Antigua today.
The Howth man in good form as he was embraced by friends and family. He joked that he felt “worse than after 20 pints”.
He left La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12th and took 53 days, one hour and 12 minutes to row the 5,000 kilometres across the Atlantic. Competing as Nothing Ventured, he finished 30th overall and second in the solo class.
A five and the four rowing as Row Hard or Go Home were the first two Irish boats home. The five set a new record time for a five of 33 days 12 hours 38 minutes and 30 seconds, while the four completed the crossing in 35 days, 23 hours and 41 minutes.
“There is nothing on this earth (which) compares to what I have just gone through in the last 53 days. It’s been an absolute roller coaster,” Carr said.
He said it was a “sweet moment” to finish and to be greeted by those who had flown in to welcome him.
A pod of dolphins swam by his boat on Christmas day. He was also able to watch sharks, marlins, tuna and even a whale. “I had a zoo follow me for about three days!”
He dealt with severe loneliness at sea. “I’m never ever doing a solo venture again. I thought I would be okay, because I like my own company – I like sitting on the couch for hours on my own, but that’s a different ball game altogether. I can’t describe the degrees of emotion you go through when you are out there on your own.”
He apologised to his family and his girlfriend, Rachel, for the amount he “moaned and vented” online and thanked the support team.
He raised money for two charities: CFFC (Cancer Fund for Children) and a Manchester City fund, City Thrive.
Asked had he any advice to anyone suffering from loneliness, he cited his experience of how low he felt in bad weather, only to see it change for the better. “Just hang in there. Nothing lasts forever.”
Pic: Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge on YouTube
All nine rowers in the Row Hard or Go Home team have now rowed across the Atlantic. The Four arrived in Antigua this morning having completed their row from the Canaries in 35 days, 23 hours and 41 minutes as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
The five-man crew of the Brugha had finished their row early on Sunday morning, setting a new record time for a five-person crew.
It was a particularly special day for Dan Buckley, who celebrated his 36th birthday on the other side of the Atlantic, having set out from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12th. Twins Eugene and Frank Mohan and Jim Bailey were his crewmates.
The four men were in good form as they were greeted by family members in English Harbour. Though they had lost two oars and encountered high winds, they said the were frustrated by the calm seas which made their final drive for the finish difficult.
Rowers from the Five were also waiting for them at the finish. Row Hard or Go Home have been major fundraisers – with a reported €50,000 raised – for Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice and the RNLI.
The Four finished 10th overall. One Irish rower remains in the race: Jamie Carr, whose team name is Nothing Ventured, lies second in the solo class and is set to finish on or around February 5th.
Five-man Irish crew Row Hard or Go Home has rowed across the Atlantic. They crossed the finishing line in Antigua, having set off from La Gomera in the Canaries on December 12th. They finished fifth in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and set a new record as the fastest Five to row across the Atlantic, coming in on day 34 and beating the old record, set in 2019, which was more than 35 days.
The crew of Gearóid Ó Briain, Derek McMullen, Shane Culleton, Tom Nolan and Diarmuid Ó Brian were greeted by a big group of relatives and supporters in English Harbour. They raised funds for the RNLI and Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice.
The row had been hard and they struggled with a loss of electrical power early in the race. Weather conditions on the final day were difficult. They thanked their sponsors and supporters and said they had missed their families during the row.
There is also a Four racing under the Row Hard of Go Home banner. They are due to finish in the next few days.
Irish solo rower Jamie Carr, rowing as Nothing Ventured, is set to finish at the end of the first week of February.
Picture of crew with their certificates marking the record row courtesy Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/YouTube
University of Galway’s men’s senior eight took the honours in the second head at the Head of the Shannon on Lough Rinn. In excellent conditions, the crew clocked nine minutes 17.5 seconds for the 2.9 kilometres.
Coláiste Iognáid’s men’s junior 18 eight also came in under 10 minutes, setting a time of 9:52.2, ahead of St Joseph’s and Enniskillen in this class. St Joseph’s were the fastes junior 18 quad, in 10:41.4.
Glen Patterson of Sligo (pictured) came home fastest in the men’s senior single, while Zach Meegan of Athlone took the honours in the junior 18 single.
Neptune’s men’s masters eight had been fastest in the first head, taking a penalty and clocking 9:51.9. The fastest men’s senior four were University of Galway.
The fastest women’s junior 18 eight were the Coláiste Iognáid crew.
The Shandon/Skibbereen men’s senior quad which featured Gary O’Donovan was the fastest crew at the Muckross Head of the River, run in excellent conditions at the National Rowing centre on Saturday. This crew set a time of 10 minutes 11.2 seconds, while Skibbereen’s club eight were just under 10 seconds slower in second overall on time.
St Michael’s junior 18 eight covered the three kilometre course in 10 minutes 23 seconds, while Cork Boat Club’s crew set the fastest time for a men’s senior four – they clocked 10 minutes 35.8 seconds. Cork’s Michael Cronin was the fastest senior single sculler (11.47.1).
Castleconnell had an excellent set of results at junior level. Their junior 18 ‘B’ quadruple set a time of 10 minutes 36 seconds – 4.3 seconds faster than the club’s A crew, who were second. Casteconnell were the fastest men’s junior coxed four, covering the course nine and a half seconds faster than St Michael’s – and also came out on top in the men’s junior double and pair. The women’s junior 18 eight was also won by Castleconnell.
Lee Valley won the women’s junior 18 quad. Their time was 11 minutes 18 seconds. Lee Valley also won the junior double.
However, Holly Davis was beaten by Kate Reidy of Lee (pictured) in the women’s junior single scull.
Cathal O’Donovan of Skibbereen was by far the fastest junior 18 single sculler in a big field.
A composite masters eight set a time of 10 minutes 38.9 seconds for the three kilometre course. Shandon won the women’s masters coxed quad.
UCD Boat Club captain Shauna Fitzsimons told the big assembly which attended the club’s annual dinner that the year 2021/2022 had been one of the most successful seasons in the club’s history.
She thanked the coaches, Old Collegians, UCD sport and others involved in the effort.
At the Irish Championships, the club won all four men’s eights titles on offer. The men’s senior eights took their third consecutive Big Pot. Thirty-six rowers and five coxes came back from the National Rowing Centre as champions.
And these were only the highlights of a year which featured wins at the Irish University Championships and in the colours races.
Performances at Henley Royal Regatta and London Metropolitan regatta also gave an indication of how strong the club is.
Martin Feeley was honoured at the event – in a touching gesture which acknowledged the volume of hours given by him and his family, a new Empacher eight was named in honour of his wife, Colleen (picture).
Talking to this reporter, the long-term coach praised his charges and said he felt the superb winning run would run out: UCD Boat Club have done it with virtually no link to the national system, and rowing scholarships have not played the part they have at other university clubs.
Fitzsimons named Fintan Earley (below), who stroked the senior eight to success this year, as Rower of the Year. Coman O’Connell was named Club Person of the Year.
Ellie Scott, the captain of UCD Women’s Boat Club, spoke of their fine year. She picked out the run at Henley Royal Regatta as a highlight. Tom Sullivan, surely the longest serving coach in Irish rowing, spoke briefly as he was honoured: “I enjoyed every minute of my time at Islandbridge,” he said. Well down his eighties, and recently recovered from Covid 19, he is back on the bank.
Old Collegians rowers Sanita Puspure and Eimear Lambe both won medals on the international stage this season and the dinner was attended by Rowing Ireland president Neville Maxwell and ceo Michelle Carpenter.
Among those honoured on the night were Ned Sullivan, David Somers, and Suzanne Bailey of UCD Sport.
The best time in the men’s open category went to another competitor from a Cork club, Eamonn Joyce of Cork Boat Club. He clocked 6:15.3, while the fastest under-23 man was Ciarán O’Connell of University of Limerick, with a time of 6:31.2.
Another young competitor, Rian Claffey of Athlone set a fine time – he is a junior 16 rower, yet took just six minutes 31.9 in his win in this class.
An under-23 competitor set the fastest time for a woman. Chris Kirwan of University of Limerick Rowing Club covered the 2,000 metres in 7:07.7.
Kate Healy, also of University of Limerick, won the Open class with a time of seven minutes 10.6 seconds. Her clubmate, Roisín Mertz was her closest challenger, on 7:16.2.
Laoise Phillips of St Michael’s set the fastest time in the women’s junior 18 category – 7:32.9 – while Roisín Byrne of Offaly Rowing Club set a good time of 7:42.5 in the women’s junior 16 2,000 metres.
Pic: Andrew O’Leary with Noah Giltinan.
Delegates to the annual general meeting of Rowing Ireland in Dublin elected Neville Maxwell (above) as their new president, chose to pass all the constitutional changes proposed by the board and heard of some serious disciplinary activity during the year.
Maxwell defeated Mick O’Callaghan by 52 votes to 21. O’Callaghan, from Lee Valley, had spoken of the disenchantment with the board amongst clubs.
Maxwell thanked O’Callaghan for a fair battle and said: “We need to pull together; work together and bring our sport forward.”
The Neptune man, who represented Ireland as a rower in two Olympic Games, spoke of the dedicated volunteers in the sport and the opportunities ahead.
“We are in a great spot and we work together we can be the number one sport for clubs as well as internationals.”
O’Callaghan offered his congratulations. “We had a fair contest. We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago, agreed it would all be positive. We totally support the new board.”
“We need to have honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I will be watching you closely, Neville. And if there is anything you want from me come and ask.”
A majority of 75 per cent was needed for the changes in the way Rowing Ireland will be run going forward. Constitutional reform was passed by 76.7 per cent. There were bigger majorities for stripping the president of automatic right to be board chair (77.5); working with six directors, one each from the provinces and new ones for coastal and athlete representation (88.7). Eighty one per cent agreed that the treasurer will no longer be an elected role from next year.
The vote for Secretary was won by the incumbent, Nessa Foley, who beat Emily Dulohery by 49 votes to 23. The vote on the Treasurer saw Paul Kavanagh of Fermoy beat the incumbent, Leo Gibson of Old Collegians, by 40 votes to 31.
Garth Young, the current chair of the High Performance Committee, was forthright in his criticisms and demand for change in the constitution.
He said there were numerous meetings to address “constant undermining of board”. A solicitor was paid €80,000 for an investigation and 78 pages of alleged wrongdoing were generated. These related to data breaches, inappropriate sharing of information and email misuse. “Our ceo has been threatened,” he added.
He said the constitution was “a huge opportunity to embrace change and leap forward”. The people in charge had “no control” in certain situations and spoke of Rowing Ireland being “the victims of individuals’ behaviour” and not being able to address it under the present constitution.
“The constitution was in a poor state,” said Martin Hogan, who chaired the meeting, and the people in charge were doing their best. “We shouldn’t condone poor behaviour.”
He said that due to disciplinary issues one person had stepped back from all activity in rowing for five years and another, following a disciplinary process, has agreed to step back from committee and branch activity for two years.
Hogan laid out the funding situation for the year: “We got over two million from Sport Ireland. Over 99 per cent of funding comes from Sport Ireland.”
A number of delegates had questions relating to the status of the constitution approved last year. Hogan said that due to cost issues and after advice had been taken it was decided to put changes to this year’s meeting.
Pat Kiely gave a talk on safety. He urged clubs to make submissions to the Government on the new Code of Practice on Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.
He said clubs should have a Safety Statement; an Emergency Action Plan; and a Safety Self Assessment.
He also said that Rowing Ireland will be bringing a new booklet on safety, built around the equivalent document for the UK.
Volunteer of Year: Shane Russell of Whitegate Rowing Club (organiser of Irish Coastal Championships)
Rowability: Rory O’Brien, Galway RC
Women in Sport Advocate: Aisling Flanagan, Athlone BC
Coach of the Year: Conor Breen, St Joseph’s RC
High Performance Rower of Year: Katie O’Brien, Galway RC
Up-and-Coming Rower of the Year: Brian Colsh, University of Galway RC
Umpire of the Year: Kayla McCann, St Michael’s RC
Senior Rower of Year: David Sommers, UCD
Club of the Year: Athlone Boat Club
Outstanding Achievement of the Year: Alison Bergin, Fermoy RC (pictured with Paul McDermott)
Presented by Paul McDermott of Sport Ireland
Skibbereen’s men’s club one eight clocked 10 minutes seven seconds to come fastest at the Skibbereen Head of the River at the Marina in Cork.
The University of Limerick senior men’s quadruple was the fastest in their class. Their time of 10 minutes 29 seconds was 10 seconds faster than the composite men’s quadruple. Lee’s junior men’s quadruple were the fastest in this class in 11 minutes flat.
The fastest women’s sculler was junior competitor Holly Davis of Lee Valley, who took 13 minutes and 43 seconds to cover the course. Finn O’Reilly of Skibbereen (pic) was the fastest senior man – by one second from Kealan Mannix of University of Limerick.
The worst of the wind and rain came as the event was finishing up.