Paul O’Donovan’s absence from the Ireland lightweight double because of his medical exams was a big talking point here at the European Rowing Championships in Bled. But the men’s lightweight double and the men’s double were the two Ireland heat winners, with eight other boats going to repechages.
Hugh Moore had done enough to deserve his chance to accompany Fintan McCarthy in the lightweight double, and their first race went well. They led – if not by much – down the course and won a tight battle with Poland to take first. Fast-finishing Portugal could not push into the top two of Ireland and Poland, who progressed directly into the A Final.
Three other Ireland crews in this block of races had to settle for places in the repechage.
The women’s four were pitted against another talking-point crew in Britain. The world champions were boosted by Helen Glover’s return. They were never really tested, though Ireland did close up to them as they took second.
The men’s four also finished well, but were pipped for second by Italy in a race won by Romania.
Siobhán McCrohan returned to international competition after a long break. She finished second to Evangelia Anastasiadou of Greece in the heat of the lightweight single sculls.
Earlier Ireland’s Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle gave the team a boost with a good win in their heat of the double sculls.
France gave the new crew a good race down the course, with tiny margins separating the crews at the 500, 1,000 and 1500 marks. But Ireland led through each of these and confirmed their good form coming to the line as France did well to take the second A Final place on offer ahead of Romania.
The first three Ireland crews to go into action each had just one place to aim for; they did not secure that and will go on to repechages.
The PR2 Mixed Double of Steven McGowan and Katie O’Brien were in just about the toughest heat imaginable. Ukraine are the world champions, while Poland and the Netherlands took silver and fourth place last year. Ukraine and the Netherlands duked it out to take first – Ukraine won. Ireland fought it out with Poland for third, but were pipped by .33 of a second.
There was also a fourth place for the new Ireland women’s pair of Imogen Magner and Natalie Long.
In the women’s double, Ireland’s Zoe Hyde and Sanita Puspure gave way to Laila Youssifou and Roos de Jong of the Netherlands, who took the one A Final place. Ireland did close at the finish, but the Netherlands made their point well. When it came to the second heat, Romania were also impressive winners.
The lightweight women’s double could only take third in their heat. Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen (below) disputed second in a race won by France. But as the French moved into the A Final, Ireland lost out in a battle with Poland for second.
Brian Colsh (20) finished third in his heat of the men’s single sculls. Sverri Nielsen of Denmark won, taking the place in the A Final.