Boat Club Make History as First Cork Senior Eights Champions

An Irish Championships which showcased accomplished rowing ended with a bit of history. The amazing fact that a Cork club had never won the men’s senior eight is no more. Cork Boat Club pulled together this year with the goal of ending the drought, and their powerful crew (above) saw off determined challenges by UCD and Commercial as they executed their race plan to perfection.

 In the women’s senior eight, UL and Shannon combined to take the win, with Shannon taking their first such title.

 University of Limerick won the men’s intermediate coxed four and Skibbereen the junior 18 women’s quadruple. It took the west Cork club to four titles and 199 overall.

 St Michael’s won a good battle with Athlone in the men’s junior 18 double, a particularly good achievement for St Michael’s, as Eoin Balfe was a late change. He teamed up with Jack Rafferty.

 UCD won the men’s invitational men’s novice eight, the first event of the evening session of finals.

 Junior 16 has been a competitive and high-quality grade at this regatta, albeit a non-Championship one. Athlone’s good regatta included a fine win for the well-named Sarah Rockett in the junior 16 single.

 UCC topped the rankings at the end of three great days with six Irish Championship wins.

 Men’s Senior Eight Winners: Cork Boat Club (Michael Cronin, Peter Grogan, Ciarán Brady, Andy Harrington, Fionnán Tolan, Barry O’Flynn, Thomas Earley, Jonny Cuddy. Cox: Sarah Lonergan).

 Women’s Senior Eight Winners: University of Limerick/Shannon (Miriam Fleming, Amy Barrett, Laura Meehan, Caoimhe O’Sullivan, Chris Kirwan, Anna Keating, Niamh Coffey, Alyssa Mannix. Cox: Rose O’Callaghan).

Feerick, Byrne and Enniskillen Light Up Championships

Impressive wins for Enniskillen junior crews and for Claire Feerick and Ronan Byrne in the senior singles stood out at the Irish Rowing Championships today. And Anna Brennan (pic) won New Ross’s first ever Championship title.
Feerick gave Neptune Rowing Club lift-off at the Championships. The 25-year-old, who studies and rows at Oxford Brookes, has had a remarkable four weeks. She won the women’s Championship Eight at Women’s Henley; the Remenham at Henley Royal Regatta – a stunning victory in one of the best races of this great event – and now her first title at the Irish Championships, after “chasing it for 11 years”.
She powered away from early leader Holly Davis of Lee Valley in the middle stages and won well; Skibbereen’s Aisling Hayes took second and Davis third.
Byrne was an even more emphatic winner of the men’s single. He brought UCC’s tally of titles this year to six so far and is now going down the teens in titles personally.
Enniskillen may not have been major players in the men’s junior 18 eights drama on Saturday, but their junior men’s coxed four won an exciting race on Sunday. They led from half way, but Presentation, Cork, and Castleconnell gave them a rattle coming to the line.
The Enniskillen junior 18 women’s eight killed off the drama in their race with a display of power and grace. The standard of junior women’s rowing at the event has been noteworthy.
Queen’s have also impressed at this regatta; Fergus Bryce and Ronán Gibbon added the intermediate double to their win in the senior quadruple the day before.
Anna Brennan won the club two single sculls and made history. It was the first Championship for her club, New Ross.
UCD were in an outside lane in the men’s club two eight, but it hampered them not at all in their win, while University of Galway continued a good run at this regatta with a win in the women’s intermediate coxed four.
The session had started with a morale-boosting win for Kenmare. Jonah Kirby won the junior 16 single. The non-Championship event had a remarkable entry of 64 crews.

Images from Day Two of the Irish Championships

A selection of Saturday winners from the Irish Rowing Championships (from the top): Enniskillen’s junior four (Naomi Robinson, Acorn Cassidy, Isabaella Wright and Zara Welsh); St Joseph’s junior eight; Shannon’s senior pair (Patti Mullin, Anna Keating); Skibbereen’s Aisling Hayes; the Queen’s senior men’s quadruple.

St Joseph’s Vanquish Coláiste Iognáid in Stunning Finish

The Irish Rowing Championships has had an exceptional standard of rowing and good conditions, but crowds love an on-the-line win, and they got it in spades at the NRC this evening.
Coláiste Iognáid came within a tenth of a second of winning the men’s junior 18 eight, only to be pipped by their city rivals, St Joseph’s, in a stunning finish. Joe Hedges of St Joseph’s stood up in the boat as they crew roared to celebrate their win (picture).
The celebrations were not as raucous for other wins, but there were standout moments. Enniskillen’s Naomi Robinson, Acorn Cassidy, Isabaella Wright and Zara Welsh looked slick in their win in the women’s junior 18 four and Anna Keating and Patti Mullin won the women’s senior pair with a classy performance.
The men’s senior quadruple saw Queen’s come back to winning ways at the Championships. Just a day before Hugh Moore had to receive assistance after their loss in the double, but their powerful performance in the quad was a joy to watch.
Skibbereen climbed to 198 national titles with a processional win for Aisling Hayes in the intermediate single, while Lady Elizabeth’s Mark Quigley won the men’s club two single. UCD won the women’s club two eight and UCC the men’s intermediate pair.
Two non-Championship events bookended the session: Muckross mounted an extraordinary finishing burst to win the men’s junior 16 double, while Enniskillen finished out a good day for them with a big win in the women’s junior 16 eight.

Cork, Athlone and Castleconnell Bring it Home at Championships

The wide spread of winners has been a mark of the 2024 Irish Championships, and the trend continued through the first set of finals on Saturday. Yet, the watching crowds (above) can see that there are some clubs which are hitting their marks and notching up multiple wins. Cork Boat Club, at men’s senior level, and Athlone juniors have caught the eye. And Castleconnell had a couple of stirring wins.

Athlone started the session with a terrific victory  in the women’s junior double sculls. Skibbereen might have been favourites, but Athlone nailed this one. They led at 500 metres and Skibbereen could not catch them. By the end the midlanders were in control and won by three seconds.  

UCD overhauled Queen’s in the final quarter to win the men’s novice coxed quadruple. They showed good control for a novice crew to close this out under pressure from their North of Ireland rivals.  

The final of the women’s senior quadruple turned into a procession for the University of Limerick/Shannon composite. UCC did try to catch them but could not gain any real purchase.   

Fermoy’s women’s junior 16 double gave one of the best performances of the weekend in their win. It might be a non-Championship event, but this was one of the best races. Killorglin led to the middle stages, only to see Shannon take over as they faded. But Fermoy clung on to the leaders and then headed them right on the finish line. They won by four tenths of a second.

Athlone’s strength at junior 18 level was again on show in their win in the men’s junior quadruple. They powered into the lead. Cappoquin and St Michael’s gave them a spirited challenge, and pushed up closer to them coming to the line. But the boys in green covered it well.  

UCC built up such a strong lead in the women’s novice coxed quadruple that they easily survived a mis-stroke with a quarter of the race left.

The final of the men’s intermediate single sculls was a memorable race in more ways than one. Andrew O’Connor wore a woolly cap on a July day, but it worked for him. The Castleconnell man read the race beautifully and won. Andrej Liadoff of Commercial led off, but could not hold on. Donnacha Keeley of University of Galway challenged. O’Connor took over – and doffed the cap to the cheering crowd after he crossed the line to win.

Cork Boat Club’s Barry O’Flynn and Fionnan Tolan won the men’s senior four on Friday and added the men’s senior pair in similar, confident, fashion. UCD did push up at the finish, but O’Flynn and Tolan now have two of the three big senior sweep titles – and the men’s eights will be in their sights on Sunday.

University of Galway were excellent winners of the women’s intermediate pair. Neptune made the early running, but Galway drew steadily up beside them and then took over the top spot. They held it despite Neptune never giving up the challenge.

The men’s junior 16 eights was the last race of the morning session – and one of the best. Castleconnell showed remarkable calmness to build a lead over Neptune A and Enniskillen, and then hold off both crews coming to the line. They even pushed again to guarantee their win.

St Joseph’s Win Thriller and UCC Impress at Championships

Skibbereen and University of Galway recorded their second wins of the day in the final session of today’s racing at the Irish Rowing Championships. But as the day closed it was UCC who topped the tally, with three wins.
Ronan Byrne, pictured, teamed up with Adam Murphy to win the men’s senior double. They judged their race perfectly. Ciarán Purdy and Hugh Moore, both lightweight internationals, led through the 1,000 metres and 1500 metres. But the bigger men from UCC had them in their sights. The best efforts of the Queen’s duo were not enough; UCC took their second title. They would soon add their third, as they took the men’s club two coxed four.
In the best final of the session, St Joseph’s won the men’s junior 18 pair. They opened up a small lead and then defended it against a serious, long-term challenge from Presentation. Then, coming up to the finish, Skibbereen, who had been in third, charged. They overtook Pres, only to see St Joseph’s find a final burst, which saw them home.
Moya Knowles of Skibbereen was all on her own for much of the final of the women’s junior single sculls. Once out ahead she stretched her lead to lengths of open water, leaving the rest of the crews way behind. She won by just over seven seconds from Anna Brennan of New Ross, whom she will join in the Under-19 double at next month’s World Championships.
Commercial had a tremendous win in the men’s intermediate eight. Four of the six crews battled it out to the middle stages, but the Dublin club then nudged ahead. They held off a challenge by University of Limerick and stretched their lead to win.
Methodist are cited as a coming force in junior rowing. Their performance in the (non-Championship) junior 16 men’s coxed quadruple suggested this is true – their A crew beat Commercial into second, and their B crew took third.
Trinity’s club two women’s coxed four were very sound winners, holding off the challenges of their Dublin neighbours Commercial and UCD.
It took a bit of time to set up the final of the women’s intermediate eight, but when it went off, University of Galway were imperious. They were in lane two, and could look across at the other crews, led by UCD A, who chased them in vain.
Holly Davis and Sophia Monohan were also in also in an outside lane in the women’s senior double, and also showed great form to win. This time, UCC looked good early on, but the two young woman from the local club took over and won.

Claffey and Cork Men’s Four Shine as Champs Start Well

Six sets of finals will be the highlights of the Irish Rowing Championships, and the first batch on Friday laid down a promising base. Wins for Cork Boat Club and University of Galway in the men’s and women’s senior four were talking points, but young talent also shone brightly at Farran Wood.
The final of the men’s junior single sculls was a great race. Rian Claffey of Athlone pulled into a narrow early lead over Jack Rafferty of St Michael’s. As the two moved away from the rest of the field, Rafferty repelled push after push by his rival, who constantly held an overlap. Claffey held on to win in a very fine time (7:20.7) on a day with a testing wind.
Claffey and Rafferty will row together in Canada next month. Both have just been both just named in the Under-19 Ireland quadruple scull for the World Championships.
Jake McCarthy (pictured) might have given way to Niall Beggan in the qualifiers for the men’s lightweight single’s final. But when it came to the final, McCarthy took control in the middle 1,000 of the race and won well.
Cliodhna Nolan of UCC was even more convincing as she won the women’s lightweight single sculls.
St Michael’s extended the list of convincing wins with their victory in the junior women’s pair. Under leaden skies, they sparkled and kept Skibbereen at bay. Commercial took the bronze.
The University of Galway women’s four justified their favouritism. They got a good race from University of Limerick, but pulled away in the final third.
The UCD women’s novice eight then rowed well to take this Championship, seeing off their nearest challengers, Trinity.
In the one non-Championship race of this session, Killorglin won the women’s junior 16 coxed quad.
The concluding two races of the session were eye-catching, but in different ways.
Shannon had a tremendous, come-from-behind, win in the women’s intermediate double. Fermoy pushed into a clearwater lead and looked a very good bet to take the title; but Shannon clawed their way back. Coming up to the finish they took the lead and won by 1.3 seconds.
In the men’s senior four, UCD hoped they could fashion a similar fightback. But Cork Boat Club were ready; they burnt off their Dublin rivals with a touch of the arrogance of the southern capital.
It bodes well for the men’s senior eights final on Sunday.

Gold for Lynch and Doyle as Murtagh and Keogh Take Silver

Good things come to those who wait. Philip Doyle came back from a fractured rib to compete in the World Cup in Poznan – and with his partner in the double, Daire Lynch, they won gold.
Ireland also took silver on the final day of the regatta, with Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh holding off Denmark to finish second behind the remarkable Australian women’s pair.
Lynch and Doyle were impressive in their doubles final. The young crew from Poland were fast early on, but Ireland had their eyes on France, the reigning Olympic champions. When the Irish got the chance, they took it. Not long after half way, they moved into the lead, and from there they controlled the race, winning by a length from Germany and New Zealand.
Australia’s Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre came into the A Final of the women’s pair with by far the better winning time in their semi-final than Ireland’s. The Australians franked this form with a convincing win. Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh were the best of the rest, though they had to show good battling qualities to hold off Denmark’s Fie Udby Eriksen and Hedvig Laerke Rasmussen.
Konan Pazzaia led his B Final of the men’s single sculls in the middle stages, but the field closed around him and he eventually finished fourth, 10th overall.

Silver for O’Donnell at World Cup Regatta in Poznan

Tiarnán O’Donnell was the Ireland star on the second day of the World Cup regatta in Poznan in Poland. The PR2 single sculler overcame a slow start to grab a deserved silver medal behind world champion Corne de Koning of the Netherlands. Steven McGowan fell just outside the medal rankings, pushed into fourth by Germany’s Paul Umbach.
The adverse weather conditions were a major factor on the day. The programme had to be brought forward.
The Ireland men’s double were part of one of the closest semi-finals of the day, taking second behind New Zealand. Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch move into Sunday’s A Final, but they were frustrated with their first 500 metres, which was raced in a testing crosswind.
Robbie Manson and Jordan Parry build up a lead which Doyle and Lynch whittled away. In the final battle to the line, the men in black held on to win.
Konan Pazzaia was courageous in his semi-final of the men’s single sculls. He clung on to fourth, hoping for a slip-up in the leading trio of Croatia, Poland and Brazil. But as multiple Olympic medallist Damir Martin pushed away to win, and Poland and Brazil did not fade, Pazzaia slipped back to fifth at the finish.
The pair of John Kearney and Jack Dorney were third in their repechage. They took second in the B Final, eighth overall.
Pazzaia is first of the Irish into action on the programme for Sunday. His B Final is set for 7.20 Irish time. The A Final for women’s pair is scheduled for 8.06 and the men’s double is pencilled in at 8.46.

Olympic Crews Win Heats at Poznan World Cup

Two Ireland crews set for the Paris Olympics won their heats at the World Cup regatta in Poznan today.
The women’s pair of Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh (above) took on the second crews of Australia and the Netherlands and beat both as they turned a small early lead into a comfortable win which lifts them into Sunday’s A Final. Keogh said they expected a tail wind but found it had switched around.
The world champions, Ymke Clevering and Veronique Meester of the Netherlands, are not competing. This sets up an arm wrestle on Sunday for top spot between Ireland and Australia One, who were much faster than Ireland in their heat win.
The men’s double of Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle, who has recently had a rib injury, had an impressive win in their heat. They face into a semi-final (8.45 Irish time) on Saturday.
Ireland’s men’s pair in Poznan is the young crew of Jack Dorney and John Kearney. They took second behind Croatia’s Valent and Martin Sinkovic in their heat and compete in Saturday’s repechage. 
The day ended with two encouraging results.
Konan Pazzaia qualified for the semi-final of the single sculls through a good win in his repechage. He had earlier finished third in his heat
Tiarnán O’Donnell’s good form in the PR2 single is remarkable. He doggedly chased world champion Marinus de Koning down the course in the preliminary race, finishing 4.79 seconds behind the dominant Dutchman. Steve McGowan also did well, taking third. Both have good lane draws for the final, which is set for 1.10 Irish time on Saturday.