Gary O’Donovan ended what has been a frustrating season for him with a win at the Irish Championships today. He took the men’s lightweight single sculls title, beating nearest rival Jake McCarthy. It was close in the early stages, but O’Donovan, who was the spare for the gold-medal-winning lightweight double at the Olympic Games, eked out a lead and then stretched it into a big margin of clear water by the end. He had over 15 seconds to spare on the line.
In the closest race of the afternoon session – deferred from the morning slot by the weather – Donagh Claffey of Athlone put in a fine performance to win the junior 18 single sculls by just over a second from Ronan Gibbon of New Ross. David Foley Kiely of St Michael’s had looked on course to be in the mix coming up the final stages, but it was Gibbon and then Claffey who showed their finishing speed.
The junior 19 men’s single gave a chance to those who had missed out on the junior 18 ranks because of the cancellation of the 2020 Championships to show their wares. Andrew Sheehan of Lee Rowing Club took the opportunity, though he was strongly challenged right to the line by Finn O’Reilly of Skibbereen.
In another good contest, the composite of Shandon and UCC won the men’s senior fours. UCD were the holders from 2019, but it was University of Limerick who tested the winners all down the course. They even finished well, pushing to the line and losing by just over a second. The winning crew had brothers Alex and Ronan Byrne, who competed in Tokyo, along with Jack Dorney and Adam Murphy.
UCC had also taken the first senior title on offer when they won the women’s four with a clearwater lead over NUIG. The winners are a talented crew – Olympic medallist Emily Hegarty (pictured) joining Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen, also Olympians, and Tara Hanlon.
Lydia Heaphy had just one opponent in the women’s lightweight single and she won much as she liked. Like Gary O’Donovan, Heaphy was a standby rower at the Olympic Games and was frustrated that the cancellation of the World Championships, which took away her chance of contending for a medal in the lightweight single.
Evelina Zakarauskaite, who won two gold medals for Ireland in the Coupe de la Jeunesse, continued her good form with a win in the women’s junior pair for Galway Rowing Club. She partnered Ranya Praxmarer to a big win over Shandon, with Enniskillen in third.
In the final race of the session, University of Limerick dominated the women’s intermediate double.