Purdy A Silver Star at European Under-23 Championships

Ireland took a silver medal at the European Under-23 Championships in Hazewinkel in Belgium today, and the team in green also took seventh and 10th placings.
Lightweight single sculler Ciarán Purdy of Queen’s University covered the final 500 metres very well to take second behind Petros Gkaidatzis of Greece, with Peter Strecansky of Slovakia taking third.
Niamh Coffey won the B Final of the lighweight women’s single sculls, for seventh overall. The University of Limerick sculler was unlucky to be drawn in the toughest semi-final – three of the first four in the A Final (Greece, Britain and Italy) came from this semi. However, there was a shock in that final, as they finished second to fourth. The world under-23 champion, Evangelia Anastasiadou of Greece, could only take silver behind Turkey’s Elis Ozbay, who won the first semi-final.
Ryan Spelman, also of UL, placed fourth in the B Final of the men’s single sculls. He had taken fifth in his semi-final.
Picture shows: Ciarán Purdy, coach John Armstrong, Niamh Coffey and Ryan Spelman.

European Gold For Shining Stars O’Donovan and McCarthy

They polish excellence with such a light touch that we may be dazzled. Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, masters of the funny interview, leave their admirers with a smile on their face. But this lightweight double are surely Ireland’s most serious players in any international sport just now.
At the European Championships in Munich, O’Donovan and McCarthy defended their title and continued a winning run which has seen them crowned Olympic and World Champions.
They had not rowed together this season competitively, which added a frisson of doubt as Switzerland and Italy eyed them up on the starting line of the A Final.
The young Swiss crew of Jan Schaeuble and Raphael Ahumada Ireland went for it. They led at half way, but O’Donovan and McCarthy, like a loping beast of prey, were already on their shoulders. Through the next 1,000 metres Ireland raced clear, leaving Italy to push into second ahead of Switzerland. As seems to be their lot, Italy’s Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo took silver but never really rattled the men in green and white.
The secret of Ireland’s success is no secret: they are faster over the 2,000 metres and have such belief in themselves that no crew can knock them out of their winning rhythm.
 “We don’t change much, really. There’s no point worrying what the others can do,” O’Donovan told RTE afterwards. He joked that it was not like you could encroach into the other lane and disrupt the opponents.
Which prompted him to throw out this fantastic image.
“I went up to the Italians before and I gave them a big oul’ shoulder as they were launching the boat. They knew what was going to come, like, down the middle of the track.
“Fortunately, Fintan was able to deliver that – the final blow, as they call it! Worked out well.”
On the issue of whether the two men will team up again at the World Championships in the Czech Republic next month, O’Donovan was keeping his options open.
“That’s in question at the minute. I have to go back to school next week. Many people don’t realise it – most people have realised – I’m a bit stupid and need all the time studying I can get so I don’t fail everything.
“So the World Championships will be in question at the minute for myself. We’ll see.”
Dominic Casey has surely a plan B in mind.
The Skibbereen maestro had two other crews in A Finals, and both took fourth. The lightweight double of Margaret Cremen and Lydia Heaphy started very fast and at a high rating and led at 500 metres. Britain’s Emily Craig and Imogen Grant took over in the lead, and France locked into silver medal position, with Ireland and Italy vieing for third. In the drive to the line Italy had too much – by .64 of a second.
Aoife Casey built her challenge more steadily in the lightweight single sculls. Ionela Cozimuc of Romania took the gold with the look of a woman who wanted to lay down a marker for the Olympic-class lightweight double. If she left the field behind, Casey came through from sixth (500m), to fifth (1,000m) and fourth at 1500m. But Greece and the Netherlands were not about to yield up their hold on silver and bronze in the final quarter and Casey’s final sprint did not quite get there. The Skibbereen woman, who partnered Cremen in the Olympic lightweight double, was making her international debut for the season.
Steven McGowan and Katie O’Brien were also fourth in their A Final of the PR2 Mixed Double, a race won by Ukraine. Their joy at the end did point beyond sport to a troubled world. Victories like this can inspire those in harder circumstances.

European Rowing Championships, Day Four (Irish interest)
Lightweight Double Sculls – 1 Britain 7:27.82, 2 France 7:33.33, 3 Italy 7:36.87; 4 Ireland (L Heaphy, M Cremen) 7:37.51.

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Romania (I Cozmiuc) 8:04.41, 2 Greece (Z Fitsiou) 8:09.21, 3 Netherlands (M Veldhuis) 8:10.20; 4 Ireland (A Casey) 8:11.68.

Lightweight Double Sculls – A Final: 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:34.72, 2 Italy 6:38.40, 3 Switzerland 6:39.67.

PR2 Mixed Double: 1 Ukraine 8:53.72, 2 France 8:57.95, 3 Poland 9:02.88; 4 Ireland (K O’Brien, S McGowan) 9:14.55.

European Silver For Gutsy Ireland Women’s Four

Ireland have taken a silver medal at the European Rowing Championships. The Ireland women’s four of Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and Eimear Lambe gave it everything at the Munich course.
The final in the women’s pair had seen a Britain crew overhauled because their steady pace was no match for a fast, high-rating crew in Romania, but this race was almost the exact opposite.
Ireland blasted off the start and, setting a high rate of striking led the Netherlands and Britain by a small margin at 500 metres. From there, however, it was Britain’s race. The crew stroked by Northern Ireland woman Rebecca Shorten rowed through the Irish and built a lead steadily into a clearwater margin by the fourth quarter.
The Ireland crew held on very well to take second – the stirring battle behind them meant they could not relent. Romania passed the Netherlands to take bronze.
Earlier, the women’s pair of Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh took fourth in their A Final.
For much of the contest this looked like a fine performance by Britain, who led from the Netherlands at halfway, with Ireland and Romania duelling for third. But then the Romanians upped their rate and took over the race. Neither the Netherlands nor Britain, who clung on gamely, could match them, and Romania went on to a good win.
Unfortunately for Ireland, the British and the Dutch were not to be dislodged from second and third.

European Rowing Championships, Day Three (Irish interest)
Four – A Final: 1 Britain (4 R Shorten) 6:50.92, 2 Ireland (N Long, A Keogh, T Hanlon, E Lambe) 6:52.99, 3 Romania 6:53.83.
Pair – A Final: 1 Romania 7:34.41, 2 Britain 7:36.20, 3 Netherlands 7:39.49; 4 Ireland (E Hegarty, F Murtagh) 7:45.13



Illness Takes Out Two Crews But Three Win Their Way to Finals

Illness might have taken two crews out, but Ireland rowers remain very much on track at the European Championships in Munich.
The bad news overnight was that a number of the Irish party were unwell with stomach upsets. Sanita Puspure could not keep food down and had to withdraw. This forced out the women’s double of Puspure and Zoe Hyde and also saw the eight taken out of its repechage – which was then cancelled, as just six crews remained and could go straight into a final.
In the immediate wake of this news, the women’s pair showed great compousure. Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty went into their repechage knowing only a top-two placing would send them to the final. They took over in the second half and won.
The women’s lightweight double and Aoife Casey in the lightweight single also won.
Casey came from third at half way and passed Italy’s Stefania Buttignon in the final quarter to win.
Margaret Cremen and Lydia Heaphy (pic, worldrowing) controlled their race. They hit 53 strokes per minute and then 55 as they shot off the start. They led by a length in the middle stages. Spain and Swizerland battled it out in second and third – again, only the top two were destined for the final – with Switzerland finishing well to take a close-up second behind Ireland.
Six Ireland crews will contest finals: the lightweight men’s double and women’s four, the PR2 mixed double and the three which qualified today.

Women’s Four and Men’s Lightweight Double Power Into European A Finals

Two Ireland crews lifted themselves into A Finals with wins in their heats, and one more qualified for the semi-finals on a day of heats at the European Championships in Munich. If the history-making women’s eight (pic) find their way to the final they must come through a repechage.
The women’s four have strong ambitions to be at or near the head of the field come Saturday’s finals, but they had to take on the Netherlands in their heat. The Irish crew of Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and Eimear Lambe produced a fine performance to control the race and win – and the Dutch could only finish third and must negotiate a repechage.
Lambe was celebrating her 25th birthday.
The men’s lightweight double won their heat in familiar fashion. Swizerland led through the middle of the race, but Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan took over before the 1500-metre mark and brought it home. Italy Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo took the other A Final place on offer by winning the other heat, though in a slower time.
France pulled out and saved both crews a race, as with 12 crews there were just two heats, with the top two going directly to the A Finals.
The experience of Sanita Puspure was evident in the heat of the women’s double. The 40-year-old sculler teamed up with Zoe Hyde to effect. They took a steady second behind the Netherlands and go through to Friday’s semi-final.
A second place behind the Netherlands was not what the women’s eight wanted in their heat, but they could do not better and now are scheduled to compete in a repechage just two hours before that doubles races (9.48 and 10.47 Irish time). Hyde and Puspure are both in the eight.
It is also set to be a testing programme for Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh – the Ireland women’s pair have a repechage at 8 o’clock Irish time. In their heat they could not force themselves into a top-two spot, which would have secured direct qualification for the A Final.
Just one crew qualified from the heat of the lightweight women’s double sculls. While Ireland’s Lydia Heaphy and Margaret Cremen finished well and won a smaller battle with Poland to take second, Britain’s Imogen Grant and Emily Craig had already won well by then, while Ireland face into a repechage.
Aoife Casey also has a Friday repechage. The UCC woman took fourth in her heat of the lightweight single sculls.
There will be a straight final on Sunday for the pararowing crew of Katie O’Brien and Steven McGowan. They finished fourt in their preliminary race.

European Championships, Munich, Day One (Irish interest)

Pararowing – PR2 Mixed Double: (Preliminary Race) – 4 Ireland (S McGowan, K O’Brien) 9:35.39
Eight – Heat Two: 2 Ireland 6:52.72.
Four – Heat One: 1 Ireland 7:10.24.
Pair – Heat Two: 3 Ireland (E Hegarty, F Murtagh) 7:51.90
Double Sculls – Heat Two: 2 Ireland (S Puspure, Z Hyde) 7:47.02
Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat Two: 2 Ireland 7:53.78
Lightweight Single Sculls – Heat One: 4 Ireland (A Casey) 8:47.61
Lightweight Double – Heat One: 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 7:02.52.

Meegan and Rafferty Take Second Coupe Gold

Two A Finals, two gold medals. Zach Meegan and Shane Rafferty could not have done any better for the Ireland team at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Castrelo de Mino in Spain.
Britain have been outstanding at the European junior tournament, and their double of Harvey Orskov and Edward Andrews, who took silver on Saturday behind Meegan and Rafferty, were not going to give Ireland an easy time on the Sunday. They took the race to the Irish in the middle stages, but the Athlone/St Michael’s combination were ready. They raced well in the final two quarters and said they knew they had the British bested in the final quarter. Switzerland took silver and Britain bronze.
The Ireland junior men’s coxed four were contenders for a medal in their A Final. Christopher O’Donovan, Harry Feeney, Andrew O’Leary, James Young and cox Noah Giltinan were just three seconds away from a bronze in a close race won by Hungary, with Britain taking silver and France bronze.
The women’s four of Amy Barrett, Kelly Oforji, Alannah O’Donohoe and Ranya Praxmarer finished sixth in their final, as did Rohan O’Hara Nolan in the junior single sculls.

Coupe de la Jeunesse, Castrelo de Mino, Spain (Sunday, Irish interest)
Men, Junior
Four, coxed – Heat Two: 1 Ireland 7:07.45. A Final: 5 Ireland 6:54.68
Double – Heat One: 2 Ireland 7:08.67. A Final: 1 Ireland (Z Meegan, S Rafferty) 6:53.15.
Single – Heat One: 3 Ireland (R O’Hara Nolan) 7:51.81. A Final: 6 Ireland 7:51.34.
Women, Junior
Four – Heat Two: 2 Ireland 7:26.13. A Final: 6 Ireland 7:26.92

Gold for Ireland Double at Coupe de la Jeunesse

Ireland’s junior men’s double of Shane Rafferty and Zach Meegan won gold, and two other crews reached A Finals on the first day of the Coupe de la Jeunesse at Castrelo de Mino, Spain, today.
Rafferty and Meegan nailed their race plan as they won. They led early on, and while Belgium took over the lead at the 1,000 metre marker, Ireland shot into the lead again and won from Britain and Belgium (our picture shows Rafferty and Meegan (gold) with Britain, silver, and Belgium, bronze).
Rafferty was part of the junior quadruple which won the Irish Championships this year for St Michael’s of Limerick, while Meegan’s Athlone crew finished second.
Rohan O’Hara Nolan from Sligo Rowing Club finished fifth in an excellent A Final of the men’s single. Britain had been winning final after final and James Graham led this race coming into the final quarter. However, Italy’s Marco Gilardoni had been tracking him all the way and pushed him into second by .2 of a second. The Irish sculler won his battle with Florian Groenewegen of the Netherlands for fifth.
The men’s coxed four took sixth in their A Final, having finished second in their heat.
The women’s four took fourth in their heat and thus missed the A Final. However, they won their B Final by over 17 seconds from the Netherlands.

Coupe de la Jeunesse, Castrelo de Mino, Spain
Men, Junior
Four, coxed – Heat Two: 2 Ireland 6:58.81. A Final: 6 Ireland 6:57.13
Single Sculls – Heat Two: 3 Ireland (R O’Hara Nolan) 7:42.20. A Final: 5 O’Hara Nolan 7:55.53.
Double Sculls – Heat One: 2 Ireland 7:00.08. A Final: 1 Ireland 6:55.14.
Women, Junior
Four – Heat Two: 4 Ireland 7:24.66. B Final: 1 Ireland 7:42.41

Ireland Enter Women’s Eight for European Rowing Championships

UPDATE: The Ireland team for the European Rowing Championships in Munich will be made up of eight crews. There are six women’s crews, including a women’s eight.Twelve crews are entered, but high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni has decided that the men’s heavyweight four, double and single will not compete, and the entry of Fintan McCarthy in the lightweight single is also not in the team. 
The eight draws on the strengths of the women’s sweep and sculling crews which are also set to compete. Zoe Hyde and Sanita Puspure (pic) from the women’s double join with the women’s pair of Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh and the four of Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and stroke Eimear Lambe. It will be coxed by Leah O’Regan.
The women’s lightweight double of Lydia Heaphy and Margaret Cremen and lightweight single sculler Aoife Casey are also entered.
Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan both won medals in World Cup regattas this season, but as lightweight single scullers. They are entered for Munich in the crew in which they took gold at the Olympic Games, the lightweight double. A set of men’s heavyweight 

The pararowing crew of Steve McGowan and Katie O’Brien is also entered.

Ireland Rowing Team  for European Rowing Championships, Munich, August 11th-14th

Eight: Z Hyde, N Long, T Hanlon, S Puspure, A Keogh, F Murtagh, E Hegarty, E Lambe. cox: L O’Regan.
Four: Long, Keogh, Hanlon, Lambe.
Pair: Hegarty, Murtagh.
Double: Puspure, Hyde.
Lightweight Double: L Heaphy, M Cremen.
Lightweight Single: A Casey
Lightweight Double: F McCarthy, P O’Donovan

PR2 Mixed Double: K O’Brien, S McGowan.

Ireland Complete Under-19 Championships with Sixth, Ninth and C Final Win

Ireland recorded sixth, ninth and 13th placings at the Under-19th World Championships in Varese, Italy.
The sixth placing came in the women’s double. Holly Davis, a 17-year-old who won a medal at this level last year, teamed up with Anna Keating in the A Final. They would have hoped to reach the podium, but they could not force themselves into a race in which Greece raced away to win gold in a new world best time.
The women’s quadruple, a young and inexperienced crew, finished third in their B Final and thus took ninth, while the day had started with a good win the in C Final for Fergus Bryce of Coleraine Grammar School and Ciarán O’Sullivan of Lee (pic) in the men’s double, placing them 13th.

Four Medals for Ireland at World Under-23 Championships

Another remarkable day for Irish rowing. In little more than an hour at a major championships, Ireland contested four finals and landed four podium finishes.
Brian Colsh of NUIG and Konan Pazzaia started the run at the World Under-23 Championships in Varese with a bronze in the men’s double. Ireland were in fifth at halfway, with Moldova and Belgium contending at the head of the field. But then Ireland moved – and fast. They took out Germany and were challenging Moldova for silver coming to the line, as Belgium took gold.
Ireland quickly added a second bronze medal through the men’s four. The crew of Adam Murphy, Nathan Timoney, Andrew Sheehan and John Kearney (pic, courtesy WorldRowing) were never out of the running for a medal, holding third behind Britain and New Zealand in a leading group which formed early. Ireland pushed hard to up the colour of the medal, but the order stayed the same on the line.
The lightweight men’s double of Ciarán Purdy and Hugh Moore well deserved their silver. Again the work was done in the middle stages of the race. Spain were leaders early on, but as Italy moved into the gold medal spot, Ireland took over in second. The two Queen’s University men then hunted down the host nation, but Italy upped their race to 43 strokes per minute and thrilled their supporters with the win.
The women’s single sculls gave Alexandra Foester the chance to show what a good racer she is. The defending champion and gold medallist from the World Cup in Lucerne this month could only take second to the fast-finishing Alison Bergin in the semi-final, but the German gave no chance to the woman in green in the final. Foester was supreme and won well. Bergin, who had been solidly in third through the race, closed hard on Aurelia-Maxima Janzen of Switzerland coming to the line but could not quite catch her.
The session of finals had been brought forward because of concerns about the weather.
In the Junior 19 World Championships, Ireland’s Holly Davis and Anna Keating qualified for the A Final. The Netherlands won this semi-final with an imperious display. Ireland, who had been fifth after 500 metres, came through the middle stages with real intent, edging into third by 1,000 metres. They pushed passed Lithuania and France and up on the Dutch, who were not to be beaten. France took third.
This was the slower of the semi-finals – indeed, Greece set a new World Best Time in the other semi-final. They were followed in by Germany and Italy – all inside the winning time in Ireland’s semi.
The Greek crew is young: Styliani Natsioula is 17, Sofia Dalidou is 16.
The Ireland junior quadruple had hopes of making the A Final, but their semi-final got away from them. Britain, the United States and Poland got a firm hold on the top three places, while the young Ireland crew remained stuck in fifth.
They will contest the B Final on Sunday (9.55 Irish time), while the junior men’s double is in action in the C Final (9.15) . The women’s double A Final is scheduled for 12.40.