The Rowing Ireland Awards Ceremony at Portlaoise hit the mark so well that it raised the question as to why this was, effectively, an inaugural event.
Not all the award winners were available, and there were some technical glitches. The choices might be put out to a wider panel and to some public voting in the future. But there was a good buzz about the event – and a green tinge to the lighting!
The main picture shows award winners Siobhán McCrohan, Steven McGowan and Alison Bergin. Below, Holly Davis and her mother, Catherine Cashman, and Fergus Hannon, Athlone, with Enniskillen coach Derek Holland, who accepted the award on behalf of Thor Nilsen, who died earlier this year.
The Award Winners, in order of presentation, were:
Thor Nilsen RIP
Volunteer of Year
Umpire of Year
Women in Sport Advocate
Rowability of the Year
Up and Coming Rower of Year
Senior Female Rower of Year
Senior Male Rower of Year
Junior Female Rower
Junior Male Rower
Coach of Year
Fergus Hannon, Athlone
Club of Year
University of Limerick
UCD can justifiably claim to be the most successful rowing club in the country. The annual dinner of the men’s and ladies’ boat clubs was a celebratory affair, with Old Collegians hosting. The president of Rowing Ireland, Neville Maxwell, and the UCD director of student services and facilities, Dominic O’Keeffe (pictured below), attended. The men’s rower of the year was Mikey Campion, while the women’s award went to Kate Douglas. The women’s captain, Sarah Daly, paid tribute to Des Harrold, who passed on this year, while Barry Doyle RIP, a former president of OC, was also honoured.
Here is a selection of pictures from the event, which marked a year in which the men’s eight won their fourth consecutive Irish senior title and the men’s and ladies’ clubs won the Gannon and Corcoran Cups and were overall champions at the University Championships. The Head of the Charles Regatta saw an Old Collegian’s women’s alumnae eight place seventh.
The 50th anniversary of the ‘animals’ crew winning the ‘Big Pot’ was marked, with the surviving members attending.
Pictures: Conamonsta.com and Liam Gorman
Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle raced to bronze at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade today.
The Netherlands were the dominant men’s double, but Ireland raced well to put serious pressure on Croatia’s Valent and Martin Sinkovic, who held out to take the silver.
Lynch, who only returned to the Ireland system from the United States earlier this year, said the crew was “delighted”.
He said they had come into the regatta only a few weeks after heavy training and were not pleased with their heat here. “We felt better and better through the regatta.” The performance of the pair, who took a bronze medal, confirmed that they had not timed it wrong.
“The fact that they won the medal yesterday, we knew we could perform. We knew we could have a good go off the Dutch, because in the semi-final we didn’t unleash a sprint but we were pretty close to them But (after final) I guess their experience maybe (gives them an edge).”
Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin were just one place off a medal in their doubles final. They were happy enough, as they are a new crew and had already achieved the big aim of qualifying the boat for Paris 2024.
Picture: Daire Lynch and his girlfriend Martina Roman, who flew in from the US for the event. Either side is Niall Lynch, Daire’s father, and Daire’s brother Brian.
In the great history of Irish rowing, Saturday, September 9th, 2023 was special. Across a range of crews, Ireland again showed that it is a power in the international game. Here are some images from here in Belgrade; thanks to the Rowing Ireland team for their coverage.
Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan, gold medallists in the lightweight double, celebrate.
The young Ireland pair of Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney, who took a bronze medal, celebrate on the podium with Switzerland (gold), Britain (silver).
Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen smile at their wonderful achievement of winning a place for their lightweight double at Paris 2024. They won the B Final.
Niccolo Maurogiovanni, their coach, hugs Nathan Timoney and Ross Corrigan.
Paul O’Donovan celebrates with close supporters and back on the water with Fintan McCarthy. (These two pictures copyright Liam Gorman).
Eight crews competed for Ireland on the second-last day of the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, and the team in green came away with gold and bronze medals and a hugely creditable Olympic qualification spot for the lightweight women’s double.
Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey had to win their B Final, which was full of talent. What nerves there were they used to drive them on after a tough year. Casey had overcome a gym accident just prior to the lightweight camp in Spain, and when they got to the semi-final here they had just lost out on an A Final spot.
They raced confidently and well in the B Final. France faltered, but it was hardly decisive. Casey and Cremen were bent on that winning spot and they got it.
The men’s lightweight double banished doubts about their status with their A Final win. Switzerland’s Jan Schaeuble and Raphael Ahumada Ireland will not let them rest, but Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy were game for the fight. Their last 500 metres was stunning; they stood up for the World Championship gold they deserve. Italy’s Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares took the bronze (see picture).
Interestingly, Mexico won the B Final to qualify their boat for Paris.
The Ireland men’s pair cited the achievement of the lightweight double in 2016 (then the O’Donovan brothers) in the aftermath of their surprise bronze medal. It was no shock to 23-year-old Nathan Timoney and 24-year-old Ross Corrigan. The Fermanagh men explained that while they are together only three months in this configuration, they targeted this race from early on. The doubled down on their gritty and brave performance in the semi-final, leading out the field in the final, and only conceding gold and silver to Switzerland and Britain late on.
Ireland’s two other A Finalists, the women’s pair of Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh and the PR2 mixed double of Steven McGowan and Katie O’Brien finished fourth and fifth, respectively. They had qualified their boats for the Paris Olympics and Paralympics by fighting their way to this elevated stage.
The women’s four – Natalie Long, Imogen Magner, Sanita Puspure and Eimear Lambe – took third in their B Final. It looks like this might be Puspure’s last Worlds; she won two World Championship golds in the single scull.
The men’s quadruple ended on a high, with a win in their C Final. The men’s four took third in theirs.
This is turning out to be one of the great Irish sporting occasions. Ireland qualified two more boats at the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, bringing our definite starters in Paris 2024 to five boats – the most Ireland has ever qualified at this stage.
And to cap a wonderful day, Siobhán McCrohan won gold in the lightweight single sculls, sprinting away from Kenia Lechuga of Mexico and Sophia Luwis of the United States in the final quarter. She inspired huge cheers from the Ireland supporters (above).
The water was very choppy and there was a disruptive wind. From the start, Martine Veldhuis of the Netherlands made hay as those in the favoured lanes one to three – McCrohan, Luwis and Lechuga – found it hard. “I think I had a full oar in Sophia’s lane,” McCrohan said.
But the second half was very different. Veldhuis missed a stroke and faded back; the top three took control and battled it out for podium positions. McCrohan, impressively, shot away and won gold. Silver fell to Lechuga, and Luwis, just a year on from a horrible car crash, took bronze.
McCrohan, who is 36, returned to rowing at the top level in the past 18 months after a long break. She said she came back to trials in 2018, but felt a recurrence of a shoulder complaint. Ireland lightweight coach Dominic Casey was good to her and helped her; she credits him with assisting her in turning her hopes into achievements.
She was asked what had driven her to come back. “I could not stay away any longer.”
The Tribesmen sculler joked that it was a dislike for ergometer that had helped her through the rough water. “I’ve been going out in really rough conditions since I was a junior to avoid doing ergs! That helped. When you can get a bit of a run going on the boat when it’s really rough, it does feel really good that you can actually get it to sit up and move.
“I’m not sure that I’d say it was fun. I was pinballing down between the two lanes, so it was a bit all over the place. I probably rowed a few extra metres on the way down. But it was a good race. All the long sessions paid off when the race is that long.”
The doubles had started the day off well, continuing a qualification run which had started when the mixed double qualified for the Paralympics on Tuesday.
The men’s double did their bit first. With the lanes redrawn again due to a bothersome wind, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch were in lane three and the predictions were they might be in a battle with New Zealand in lane four for the crucial top-three place, with Spain and Croatia in lanes one and two taking those spots. But Ireland crews right now are a confident bunch. Doyle and Lynch burst through to lead – marginally – from Croatia’s wonder boat of Valent Marin Sinkovic by half way. The Croatians went on to win and Ireland, in second, had another Paris boat in the bag.
“We’ve qualified this boat for the Olympics and we’re in a position now to do another job on Sunday, hopefully push ourselves again, get into a nice position and show the speed we have. The hardest thing here is to perform on the day. Everything in preparation over the last few weeks is just focused on this moment. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Next up were Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin, the women’s double. Their second place was just as impressive; the US crew of Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas took full advantage of lane one, and its shelter from the wind, to win. But Hyde and Bergin were second all the way – even if the graphics on the screen here at the course did not show it, as the GPS on their boat was not recorded.
The Ireland crew even took on the Americans at the end, and were not far behind.
“We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off,” Bergin said.
Jake McCarthy has not had the Championships he would have hoped for. The lightweight single sculls had a huge entry and ran to five finals (A to E). McCarthy competed in the D Final today. There were five scullers, as Finlay Hamill of New Zealand withdrew on medical grounds, and so this final decided places 19 to 23. Oskar Soedal of Norway won well. McCarthy, in the tough lane five, took fifth, 23rd overall.
On Saturday, Ireland crews are in four A Finals – the PR2 mixed double, the men’s pair, women’s pair and lightweight men’s double. And there is the chance of at least one more Olympic qualifier come the B finals of the women’s four and lightweight double.
This is turning out to be one of the great Irish sporting occasions. Ireland qualified two more boats at the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, bringing our definite starters in Paris 2024 to five boats – the most Ireland has ever qualified at this stage. Add in the mixed double which has qualified for the Paralympics and the chance of at least one more Olympic qualifier come the finals of the women’s four and lightweight double, and this is special.
The men’s double did their bit first. With the lanes redrawn again due to a bothersome wind, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch were in lane three and the predictions were they might be in a battle with New Zealand in lane four for the crucial top-three place, with Spain and Croatia, who had the favourable lanes one and two, taking those spots. But Ireland crews right now are a confident bunch. Doyle and Lynch burst through to lead – marginally – from Croatia’s wonder boat of Valent Marin Sinkovic by half way. The Croatians went on to win and Ireland, in second, had another Paris boat in the bag.
“We’ve qualified this boat for the Olympics and we’re in a position now to do another job on Sunday [the A Final], hopefully push ourselves again, get into a nice position and show the speed we have. The hardest thing here is to perform on the day. Everything in preparation over the last few weeks is just focused on this moment. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Next up were Alison Bergin and Zoe Hyde (pictured) in the women’s double. Their second place was just as impressive; the US crew of Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas took full advantage of lane one, and its shelter from the wind, to win. But Hyde and Bergin were second all the way – even if the graphics on the screen here at the course did not show it, as the GPS on their boat was not recorded.
The Ireland crew even took on the Americans at the end, and were not far behind.
“We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off,” Bergin said.
Jake McCarthy has not had the Championships he would have hoped for. The men’s lightweight single sculls had a huge entry and ran to five finals (A to E). McCarthy competed in the D Final today. There were five scullers, as Finlay Hamill of New Zealand withdrew on medical grounds. Oskar Soedal of Norway won well. McCarthy, in the tough lane five, finished fifth, 23rd overall.
Ireland’s Siobhán McCrohan has a chance to add the first medal to the mix when she competes in the final of the lightweight women’s single at 2.15 Irish time..
Three Ireland crews qualified their boats for the Paris Olympics today at the World Championships in Belgrade. Added to the great achievement of the Paralympic double in booking a place in Paris, this event is already shaping up to be a very good one for Ireland.
The men’s and women’s pairs both had reasons to hope, and big challenges. Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh are Olympic medallists from 2021, but still count as a new crew. Romania were the form crew in their semi-final, and also have the favoured lane one in sometimes difficult conditions. Keogh and Murtagh forced their way into second, just ahead of Chile, at the 1,000 metres mark. They held that to the end; the top 11 qualified and they were now in the top six of the A Final. “It was tricky out there with the wind, so we’re quite happy we made it through,” Murtagh said.
Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney (pictured) had a similar pattern – and the same outcome. Romania again took the win, and while Ireland established themselves in second and clung onto it. Timoney (just a day over 23), spoke of their legs burning as South Africa (who made it) and Spain, who did not, pushed hard. “Going across that finish line and qualifying for the Olympics is surreal,” he added.
The lightweight double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will have their big test in the final. They won the first semi-final with customary authority; Switzerland won the second. The Irish were pleased at qualifying for the Olympics first time out. But O’Donovan was conscious that the lightweight women’s double and the women’s four had missed out today.
“It’s nice for sure, to book the ticket now at this stage makes next year a bit easier and we can just focus on peaking at the right time. Luckily for some of the guys that didn’t qualify today they’ve another chance as well, that’ll make the B-finals more exciting.”
Both crews have to finish in the top seven to nail down a Paris slot – so it is win the B final or kick it all forward to next year’s Olympic qualification regatta. Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey had a good middle to their race, but could not force their way past the United States, who defended third.
The four held a place in the top three at 500 metres and 1,000 metres, but were pushed into fifth by the end.
Siobhán McCrohan won her lightweight single semi-final by coming from behind, but Jake McCarthy was well off the pace in the men’s lightweight single C/D semi-final.
Three Olympic-class crews raced bearing Ireland colours on day four of the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, and all three did what was needed to keep them on track for qualifying for Paris 2024.
The men’s lightweight double notched up their second race win. There were changeable and sometimes choppy conditions on the course, and the lanes were redrawn so that the top-performing crews raced in lane one. Italy, in lane two, took the lead early, and even when caught by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy before 900 metres, Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares pushed back and disputed the lead. Ireland pulled out a very fast third 500 metres – 1:39.13 – to vanquish this challenge. They also had the fastest time of the four quarter-finals (6:46.53).
Switzerland came closest as they joined Ireland in the semi-finals with a quarter-final win. They look set to be the main rivals as O’Donovan and McCarthy go for gold, all going well, on Saturday. France, who beat Ireland with a late surge at the World Cup in Lucerne in July, did not make it into the A/B semi-finals.
The men’s double and men’s pair raced well and both finished second in their quarter-finals.
The Netherlands have an outstanding double in Melvin Twellar and Stefan Broenink. They were imperious in their win. Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch tracked them well to take second. Germany, who started badly, took over that place with a good middle third, but Ireland sprinted past them to regain their spot and secure a better lane draw in the semi-finals.
Italy tried to break the hegemony of lanes one to three in the first quarter-final of the men’s pair. Racing from lane four, Davide Comini and Giovanni Codato grabbed hold of the lead. Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney, in the more-favoured lane two, kept their heads. When Switzerland took over the lead, Ireland moved into second and they held it to the end. Italy’s gamble paid off, as they finished third and will compete in the semi-finals.
By qualifying for semi-finals, the Ireland double and pair are within touching distance of lifting their boats into the Olympic spots. They are now in the top 12. Eleven crews (the A Finalists and all but one of the B Finalists) will qualify their boats for Paris 2024 from these classes.
The lightweight double will qualify the boat if they finish seventh or better.
Jake McCarthy took fifth in his quarter-final of the lightweight single. He must compete in the C/D semi-finals.
Ireland’s Katie O’Brien and Steve McGowan raced to Paralympic qualification in Belgrade this morning.
The Galway/Roscommon duo pulled out a terrific win in the heat of the PR2 Mixed Double to qualify for the final at the World Championships. With this top-six placing comes qualification for the boat for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
The Irish crew exploded off the start at 52 strokes per minute. Poland led them to halfway, but by then McGowan and O’Brien were the fastest crew on the water. They caught and passed the Poles, secured the win and and swept directly into the A Final. This lifted the boat into the Paralympic Games, as the top six qualify.
O’Brien, who has spina bifida, is the best in the world in the PR2 class. But Paralympic qualification could only come in the mixed double. Ballaghadereen man McGowan, who suffered spinal injuries in a car crash in 2017, came on board in 2021 and dedicated himself to the task. The two go into a World Championship final on Saturday gunning for a medal and knowing that Paris is on the horizon.
The Ireland pair of Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh would have hoped to make it through from their heat to the semi-final. They finished second there – but grabbed their chance in the repechage today win which suggests they can reach the A Final.
The Ireland crew hit 49 strokes per minute from the start and led right through. Italy closed on them in the middle, and though both would go through, Keogh and Murtagh eased away from their challengers and won well – in the fastest time of all four repechages.
It did not go well for the Ireland men’s four. Reportedly, they were one of a number of Ireland crews affected by a bug affecting athletes from a number of countries. Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan, Adam Murphy, Jack Dorney and John Kearney rowed well early in the race, and were in second to Romania and in a qualifying spot at halfway. From there the race got away from them, with Ukraine taking second and Denmark, who had a great final 1,000 metres, pipping Germany for the third A/B spot. This ends Ireland’s hopes of qualifying this boat at this regatta.
The Ireland men’s quadruple took a good fourth place in their repechage – just one place off qualifying for the A/B semi-final. Australia were strong winners. Ireland moved from the back of the field at the 1,000-metre mark to put themselves into the reckoning for a qualifying spot. But Norway and the United States were not for yielding, and they will compete in the semi along with Australia.