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.

Bronze for O’Donovan and McCarthy and Keogh and Murtagh

Being world and Olympic champions is an amazing achievement – but it puts a target on your back.
Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy (above) stepped into the arena for the first time this season as a crew at the World Cup in Lucerne. Switzerland and Italy, the two lightweight doubles which had been fighting it out in their absence (McCarthy could not compete at the European Championships) fully intended to show them that they had moved on. And so it proved: in the final, Italy’s Gabriel Soares and Stefano Otto led out and held out to take gold as Ireland and Switzerland closed on them after their own thrilling battle, which was won by Raphael Ahumada Ireland and Jan Schaeuble.

Ireland’s women’s pair added a second bronze on the Sunday to the gold won on Saturday by Siobhán McCrohan and the silver taken by Tiarnán O’Donnell.
Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh (below) are in the top three women’s pairs competing at the moment. Their problem – and they will see it as one to be solved – is that the Netherlands and Australia are a bit better.
The Dutch had a splendid regatta and the women’s pair are the reigning world champions. Despite a start where they had some steering difficulties, Ymke Clevering and Veronique Meester  took control and won. The Australians harried them but could not truly trouble this outstanding crew. Keogh and Murtagh did not row well in the second quarter and came under pressure from Greece for third. A good second half of the race saw them break clear of the Greeks but they could not catch the top two.
The Ireland women’s double of Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin had a middle lane in their A Final, gained because of a win in the semi-final. But the United States and Australia ruled the roost in the medal race and took gold and silver. Norway held off Ireland for the bronze.
Ross Corrigan and John Kearney rowed out of lane one in the men’s pair and were on the edges of the action in their final. Britain won from fast finishers Spain, with Switzerland just holding third. The new Ireland combination (Kearney comes in for Nathan Timoney) finished sixth.
Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen took fifth in their final of the lightweight double. Britain won convincingly from New Zealand and the United States, who also had a fine regatta.
The under-23 men’s double won the B Final to finish seventh overall. Brian Colsh and Andrew Sheehan beat Cuba in the two-boat race.

Gold for McCrohan as Swiss Hold Off O’Donovan and McCarthy

Siobhán McCrohan (above) won gold and pararower Tiarnan O’Donnell silver to top off another successful day for Ireland at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne.
The most dramatic race was one which Ireland did not win. In the semi-final of the lightweight double, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy tracked Raphael Ahumada Ireland and Jan Schaeuble of Switzerland down the course. When the world and Olympic champions launched their attacks in the final third, the Swiss matched them. Ireland finished second, and these two crews, along with Italy – who won the second semi-final – will race each other in a highly promising final on Sunday.
The finals for the women’s pair and double will also be worth watching. Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh were the best crew in their semi-final, but their win was just a stepping stone on the way to take on the Netherlands and Australia, who finished first and second in the other semi.
Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin also go into their double sculls final on the back of a good win. Norway provided stern opposition, but Hyde and Bergin punched through.
Come tomorrow’s final, the lightweight women’s double will also benefit by the confidence boost of their win today. Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen overcame China in the repechage.
Ireland’s other A Finalists on Sunday will be the men’s pair. Ross Corrigan and John Kearney grabbed the third and final spot in their semi-final. The under-23 men’s crew of Brian Colsh and Andrew Sheehan took fifth in their doubles semi-final and are set for a B Final.
McCrohan can sit and watch it all from a good place as a competitor. The Ireland lightweight single sculler thanked the speed work she has done for bringing her along. Her new race plan, which features a fast start, left her rivals with nothing to get hold of. Sophia Luwis of the United States and Britain’s Olivia Bates took silver and bronze – and were limited to a fight for those medals by the excellence of the reigning world champion.
O’Donnell can also celebrate his medal. The PR2 sculler was making his debut at this level, and it was a highly satisfactory one. Steven McGowan took fourth.

O’Donovan and McCarthy Win Heat at Lucerne

Four Ireland crews won their heats and another qualified for their semi-final by finishing second on day one of the World Cup regatta in Lucerne.
The two reigning world champions shone at either end of the morning session. Lightweight sculler Siobhán McCrohan is known for finishing speed after a slow build-up. If her main rival, Olivia Bates of Britain, expected this, she must be scratching her head. McCrohan laid down four good quarters building a lead over Bates each time and depriving her of a real shot at the one spot in the final.
Fintan McCarthy (pictured) and Paul O’Donovan in the lightweight double are masters of matching the speed to the occasion. Spain led out in the third heat and were with the Irish world and Olympic champions through much of the race. But once the men in green and white moved away in the final stages the race was over.
The semi-finals and finals, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, will be a different challenge. Switzerland posted the fastest time of the day in the first heat; Italy won the second.
The women’s double (Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin) showed serious sprinting form in their win. They pulled out the fastest quarter of the heats (1:42.09) to pass and beat Australia. They also were the fastest crew overall.
Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh had a less stressful win in the women’s pair: they led through all 500m, 1,000m and 1500m. The United States and Chile slotted into the other semi-final spots.
John Kearney has replaced Nathan Timoney in the Ireland men’s pair. He partnered Ross Corrigan to good effect as they took second to the strong Britain crew of Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George in the first heat of this discipline. The two other heats had similar winning times, suggesting that the new Ireland crew is competitive.
Two crews must go through repechages on Saturday. The lightweight women’s double threw up  two very uneven heats. Ireland’s Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen missed out direct semi-final qualification; they were unable to match Britain and New Zealand in by far the faster of the two heats (winning times of 6 minutes 57.84 seconds compared to 7:05.31). The two crews which qualified in the second heat, the United States and Canada, would have been third and fourth in the first.
In the absence of Philip Doyle (injured) and Daire Lynch, an under-23 crew, represented Ireland in the men’s double. Andrew Sheehan and Brian Colsh finished fourth in their heat.

 Katie O’Brien was also unavailable, ruled out through injury, and the PR2 mixed double did not compete.   

  O’Brien’s usual partner in the double, Steve McGowan,  and debutant Tiarnan O’Donnell were entered in the PR2 men’s single sculls. O’Donnell showed well in the preliminary race. The push to the line was hectic, and he finished fourth, just ahead of McGowan.

 The final is scheduled for 11.15 (Irish time) on Saturday.

Four go Forward, but Puspure’s Paris Dream Ends

Ireland’s challenge at the final Olympic qualification regatta ended with a heartening win for the women’s four and a heartbreaking exit for Sanita Puspure. The Ireland men’s single sculler, Konan Pazzaia, leaves Lucerne with the consolation of reaching the last six of a massive field.
Emily Hegarty and Eimear Lambe now have the honour of having come through two successive Olympic qualifiers – winning the final in both. While it is an unwanted title, last time out the women’s four, which then also featured Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, went on to take a memorable bronze, at Tokyo 2020.
Natalie Long and Imogen Magner came in for Murtagh and Keogh this time, but the outcome was similar. Denmark had the win in their sights, but Hegarty in the stroke seat did not relent. Ireland came through the red buoys which cover the final 250 metres and won.
“We were just focused on the race, listened to all the calls and were trusting ourselves. We all had a crazy journey to get here and it’s amazing to see how all the hard work paid off,” Long said. She is pictured (second left), with Hegarty, Magner and Lambe.
Those red buoys will be freighted with a very different significance for Puspure. The Ireland great, a two-time world champion and thrice an Olympian, came unstuck in the run to the line, hit a buoy and saw her chance of Paris torn away. Virginia Diaz Rivas of Spain had eaten into Puspure’s customary lead – and then got past her. Had the Ireland sculler held on to her second place she would have still been bound for Paris, but her difficulty, and the time it took her to recover, was an opportunity for the rest of the field. Swiss competitor Aurelia-Maxima Katharina Janzen swept into second and goes on to Paris. Puspure finished fifth.
Pazzaia’s journey to the A Final of an event with 30 competitors is a story in itself. To land the spot in the Ireland single he won a battle with Brian Colsh, the man he teamed up with in the double to take gold at the World Under-23 Championships last year. He then won his heat and quarter final, and secured third in the semi to eke through to the A Final.
His time suggested a placing at the back of the field, but Pazzaia was in touch with the leaders all the way until decisive moves by Mihai Chiruta of Romania and United States Jacob Plihal of the US swept them into the crucial top two. Pazzaia was sixth; fourth was held by two-time Olympic medallist Kjetil Borch of Norway.

Puspure Continues Winning Ways

Sanita Puspure does not have to win each race, but when she’s on form that’s her way. And she is on form.
In her semi-final of the Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne, she led through all four quarters. Aurelia-Maxima Katharina Janzen challenged, but Puspure, a 42-year-old former world champion, was able to increase her rating and see off the 20-year-old Swiss.
If Puspure continues in this vein, only Spain’s Virginia Diaz Rivas looks likely to match her come Tuesday’s final. The Spaniard won the first semi-final; but her time was eight seconds outside Puspure’s.
Konan Pazzaia had got the day off to the perfect start. The Ireland single sculler won his quarter-final the way he had won the heat – taking the lead and never letting up. Italy’s Davide Mumolo took second while Wei Han held the third and final qualifying time.
His time, 6:57.97, was the third fastest of the four quarters. Australia will not have a men’s single sculler at the Games. Oscar McGuinness missed out – he was fourth in the fastest quarter-final. He raced out of lane two, while Pazzaia had the superior lane in his race as he had won his heat.
Pazzaia went on to reach the final, taking third in his semi. Again, he led to the 1500-metre mark. But Mihai Chiruta of Romania and Kjetil Borch of Norway headed him in an exciting final quarter. Ireland have three boats in the finals on Tuesday – the women’s four did not need to negotiate their way through, as there were six entries. 


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)