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.