McCrohan Gold and Two Olympic Qualifiers Makes for Special Day at World Championships

This is turning out to be one of the great Irish sporting occasions. Ireland qualified two more boats at the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, bringing our definite starters in Paris 2024 to five boats – the most Ireland has ever qualified at this stage.
And to cap a wonderful day, Siobhán McCrohan won gold in the lightweight single sculls, sprinting away from Kenia Lechuga of Mexico and Sophia Luwis of the United States in the final quarter. She inspired huge cheers from the Ireland supporters (above). 
The water was very choppy and there was a disruptive wind. From the start, Martine Veldhuis of the Netherlands made hay as those in the favoured lanes one to three – McCrohan, Luwis and Lechuga – found it hard. “I think I had a full oar in Sophia’s lane,” McCrohan said.
But the second half was very different. Veldhuis missed a stroke and faded back; the top three took control and battled it out for podium positions. McCrohan, impressively, shot away and won gold. Silver fell to Lechuga, and Luwis, just a year on from a horrible car crash, took bronze.
McCrohan, who is 36, returned to rowing at the top level in the past 18 months after a long break. She said she came back to trials in 2018, but felt a recurrence of a shoulder complaint. Ireland lightweight coach Dominic Casey was good to her and helped her; she credits him with assisting her in turning her hopes into achievements.
She was asked what had driven her to come back. “I could not stay away any longer.”
The Tribesmen sculler joked that it was a dislike for ergometer that had helped her through the rough water. “I’ve been going out in really rough conditions since I was a junior to avoid doing ergs! That helped. When you can get a bit of a run going on the boat when it’s really rough, it does feel really good that you can actually get it to sit up and move.
“I’m not sure that I’d say it was fun. I was pinballing down between the two lanes, so it was a bit all over the place. I probably rowed a few extra metres on the way down. But it was a good race. All the long sessions paid off when the race is that long.”
The doubles had started the day off well, continuing a qualification run which had started when the mixed double qualified for the Paralympics on Tuesday.
The men’s double did their bit first. With the lanes redrawn again due to a bothersome wind, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch were in lane three and the predictions were they might be in a battle with New Zealand in lane four for the crucial top-three place, with Spain and Croatia in lanes one and two taking those spots. But Ireland crews right now are a confident bunch. Doyle and Lynch burst through to lead – marginally – from Croatia’s wonder boat of Valent Marin Sinkovic by half way. The Croatians went on to win and Ireland, in second, had another Paris boat in the bag.
“We’ve qualified this boat for the Olympics and we’re in a position now to do another job on Sunday, hopefully push ourselves again, get into a nice position and show the speed we have. The hardest thing here is to perform on the day. Everything in preparation over the last few weeks is just focused on this moment. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Next up were Zoe Hyde and Alison Bergin, the women’s double. Their second place was just as impressive; the US crew of Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas took full advantage of lane one, and its shelter from the wind, to win. But Hyde and Bergin were second all the way – even if the graphics on the screen here at the course did not show it, as the GPS on their boat was not recorded.
The Ireland crew even took on the Americans at the end, and were not far behind.
“We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off,” Bergin said.
Jake McCarthy has not had the Championships he would have hoped for. The lightweight single sculls had a huge entry and ran to five finals (A to E). McCarthy competed in the D Final today. There were five scullers, as Finlay Hamill of New Zealand withdrew on medical grounds, and so this final decided places 19 to 23. Oskar Soedal of Norway won well. McCarthy, in the tough lane five, took fifth, 23rd overall.
On Saturday, Ireland crews are in four A Finals – the PR2 mixed double, the men’s pair, women’s pair and lightweight men’s double. And there is the chance of at least one more Olympic qualifier come the B finals of the women’s four and lightweight double.

Doubles Joy as Ireland Qualify Two More Boats for Paris 2024

This is turning out to be one of the great Irish sporting occasions. Ireland qualified two more boats at the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, bringing our definite starters in Paris 2024 to five boats – the most Ireland has ever qualified at this stage. Add in the mixed double which has qualified for the Paralympics and the chance of at least one more Olympic qualifier come the finals of the women’s four and lightweight double, and this is special.
The men’s double did their bit first. With the lanes redrawn again due to a bothersome wind, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch were in lane three and the predictions were they might be in a battle with New Zealand in lane four for the crucial top-three place, with Spain and Croatia, who had the favourable lanes one and two, taking those spots. But Ireland crews right now are a confident bunch. Doyle and Lynch burst through to lead – marginally – from Croatia’s wonder boat of Valent Marin Sinkovic by half way. The Croatians went on to win and Ireland, in second, had another Paris boat in the bag.
“We’ve qualified this boat for the Olympics and we’re in a position now to do another job on Sunday [the A Final], hopefully push ourselves again, get into a nice position and show the speed we have. The hardest thing here is to perform on the day. Everything in preparation over the last few weeks is just focused on this moment. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Next up were Alison Bergin and Zoe Hyde (pictured)  in the women’s double. Their second place was just as impressive; the US crew of Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas took full advantage of lane one, and its shelter from the wind, to win. But Hyde and Bergin were second all the way – even if the graphics on the screen here at the course did not show it, as the GPS on their boat was not recorded.
The Ireland crew even took on the Americans at the end, and were not far behind.
“We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off,” Bergin said.

 Jake McCarthy has not had the Championships he would have hoped for. The men’s lightweight single sculls had a huge entry and ran to five finals (A to E). McCarthy competed in the D Final today. There were five scullers, as Finlay Hamill of New Zealand withdrew on medical grounds. Oskar Soedal of Norway won well. McCarthy, in the tough lane five, finished fifth, 23rd overall.

 Ireland’s Siobhán McCrohan has a chance to add the first medal to the mix when she competes in the final of the lightweight women’s single at 2.15 Irish time..

Three Ireland Boats Book Places in Paris

Three Ireland crews qualified their boats for the Paris Olympics today at the World Championships in Belgrade. Added to the great achievement of the Paralympic double in booking a place in Paris, this event is already shaping up to be a very good one for Ireland.
The men’s and women’s pairs both had reasons to hope, and big challenges. Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh are Olympic medallists from 2021, but still count as a new crew. Romania were the form crew in their semi-final, and also have the favoured lane one in sometimes difficult conditions. Keogh and Murtagh forced their way into second, just ahead of Chile, at the 1,000 metres mark. They held that to the end; the top 11 qualified and they were now in the top six of the A Final. “It was tricky out there with the wind, so we’re quite happy we made it through,” Murtagh said.
Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney (pictured) had a similar pattern – and the same outcome. Romania again took the win, and while Ireland established themselves in second and clung onto it. Timoney (just a day over 23), spoke of their legs burning as South Africa (who made it) and Spain, who did not, pushed hard. “Going across that finish line and qualifying for the Olympics is surreal,” he added. 
The lightweight double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will have their big test in the final. They won the first semi-final with customary authority; Switzerland won the second. The Irish were pleased at qualifying for the Olympics first time out. But O’Donovan was conscious that the lightweight women’s double and the women’s four had missed out today.
“It’s nice for sure, to book the ticket now at this stage makes next year a bit easier and we can just focus on peaking at the right time. Luckily for some of the guys that didn’t qualify today they’ve another chance as well, that’ll make the B-finals more exciting.”
Both crews have to finish in the top seven to nail down a Paris slot – so it is win the B final or kick it all forward to next year’s Olympic qualification regatta. Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey had a good middle to their race, but could not force their way past the United States, who defended third.
The four held a place in the top three at 500 metres and 1,000 metres, but were pushed into fifth by the end.
Siobhán McCrohan won her lightweight single semi-final by coming from behind, but Jake McCarthy was well off the pace in the men’s lightweight single C/D semi-final.

O’Donovan and McCarthy Lead Charge into World Championship Semi-Finals

Three Olympic-class crews raced bearing Ireland colours on day four of the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, and all three did what was needed to keep them on track for qualifying for Paris 2024.
The men’s lightweight double notched up their second race win. There were changeable and sometimes choppy conditions on the course, and the lanes were redrawn so that the top-performing crews raced in lane one. Italy, in lane two, took the lead early, and even when caught by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy before 900 metres, Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares pushed back and disputed the lead. Ireland pulled out a very fast third 500 metres – 1:39.13 – to vanquish this challenge. They also had the fastest time of the four quarter-finals (6:46.53).
Switzerland came closest as they joined Ireland in the semi-finals with a quarter-final win. They look set to be the main rivals as O’Donovan and McCarthy go for gold, all going well, on Saturday. France, who beat Ireland with a late surge at the World Cup in Lucerne in July, did not make it into the A/B semi-finals. 
The men’s double and men’s pair raced well and both finished second in their quarter-finals.
The Netherlands have an outstanding double in Melvin Twellar and Stefan Broenink. They were imperious in their win. Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch tracked them well to take second. Germany, who started badly, took over that place with a good middle third, but Ireland sprinted past them to regain their spot and secure a better lane draw in the semi-finals.
Italy tried to break the hegemony of lanes one to three in the first quarter-final of the men’s pair. Racing from lane four, Davide Comini and Giovanni Codato grabbed hold of the lead. Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney, in the more-favoured lane two, kept their heads. When Switzerland took over the lead, Ireland moved into second and they held it to the end. Italy’s gamble paid off, as they finished third and will compete in the semi-finals.
By qualifying for semi-finals, the Ireland double and pair are within touching distance of lifting their boats into the Olympic spots. They are now in the top 12. Eleven crews (the A Finalists and all but one of the B Finalists) will qualify their boats for Paris 2024 from these classes.
The lightweight double will qualify the boat if they finish seventh or better.
Jake McCarthy took fifth in his quarter-final of the lightweight single. He must compete in the C/D semi-finals.

McGowan and O’Brien Win Heat to Secure Place at Paris Paralympics

Ireland’s Katie O’Brien and Steve McGowan raced to Paralympic qualification in Belgrade this morning.

 The Galway/Roscommon duo pulled out a terrific win in the heat of the PR2 Mixed Double to qualify for the final at the World Championships. With this top-six placing comes qualification for the boat for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.

 The Irish crew exploded off the start at 52 strokes per minute. Poland led them to halfway, but by then McGowan and O’Brien were the fastest crew on the water. They caught and passed the Poles, secured the win and and swept directly into the A Final. This lifted the boat into the Paralympic Games, as the top six qualify.

 O’Brien, who has spina bifida, is the best in the world in the PR2 class. But Paralympic qualification could only come in the mixed double.  Ballaghadereen man McGowan, who suffered spinal injuries in a car crash in 2017, came on board in 2021 and dedicated himself to the task. The two go into a World Championship final on Saturday gunning for a medal and knowing that Paris is on the horizon.  

 The Ireland pair of Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh would have hoped to make it through from their heat to the semi-final. They finished second there – but grabbed their chance in the repechage today win which suggests they can reach the A Final.

 The Ireland crew hit 49 strokes per minute from the start and led right through. Italy closed on them in the middle, and though both would go through, Keogh and Murtagh eased away from their challengers and won well – in the fastest time of all four repechages.

 It did not go well for the Ireland men’s four. Reportedly, they were one of a number of Ireland crews affected by a bug affecting athletes from a number of countries. Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan, Adam Murphy, Jack Dorney and John Kearney rowed well early in the race, and were in second to Romania and in a qualifying spot at halfway. From there the race got away from them, with Ukraine taking second and Denmark, who had a great final 1,000 metres, pipping Germany for the third A/B spot. This ends Ireland’s hopes of qualifying this boat at this regatta.     

 The Ireland men’s quadruple took a good fourth place in their repechage – just one place off qualifying for the A/B semi-final. Australia were strong winners. Ireland moved from the back of the field at the 1,000-metre mark to put themselves into the reckoning for a qualifying spot. But Norway and the United States were not for yielding, and they will compete in the semi along with Australia.  

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New Crew Bergin and Hyde Make Winning Start at World Championships

A great win by the new women’s double of Alison Bergin (21) and Zoe Hyde (26, pictured) commanded the attention on the second day of the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade. The races were brought forward and run at 5-minute intervals because of a worry about bad weather coming in later in the day.

 Lithuania led off in Bergin and Hyde’s heat, while Norway and Ireland contended for the second semi-final place … or so it seemed. By the third quarter, Ireland had moved into a clear second, and 100 metres into the final 500, the new combination led Lithuania. They crossed the line as clear leaders.

 Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen qualified for the A/B semi-finals of the lightweight double sculls. The top two made it through, and after an early show by Switzerland, Ireland and Romania moved clear in the second half of the race. Romania passed Ireland coming to the line and held on to win.

 The women’s four has just one remaining oarswoman, Eimear Lambe, from the 2021 unit which took bronze at the Olympic Games. Sanita Puspure, Natalie Long and Imogen Magner joined her – and they achieved their aim in their heat.

 There were three places available in the semi-final. Britain were dominant from early in the race, Australia took them on but could only finish second, while Ireland eased away from Germany and took third.  

 Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh contended well with the Netherlands in the first 500 metres of their heat. Only the winner would qualify directly for the semi-final, and while Ireland were just 1.34 seconds behind after the first quarter, Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester moved away precisely and powerfully from there to win. Ireland slotted into second and Britain third.

 In the repechage of the men’s lightweight single, Jake McCarthy achieved his aim of qualifying for the quarter-final – and gave himself the boost of a race win. Two qualified, and Finlay Hamill of New Zealand led into the final stages. McCarthy sprinted past him to win.  

 The Ireland men’s four is a development crew; they finished sixth in a heat won by the United States. The men’s quadruple had the same placing in their heat, which was won by the Netherlands.

Good Heat Win for O’Donovan and McCarthy at World Championships

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy got their programme at the World Rowing Championships off to a good start with a heat win.
The Ireland lightweight double had the luxury of knowing that the top four would qualify for the quarter-finals in Belgrade, but their calling card is winning each race.
The Irish set the early pace and led right through. New Zealand’s Matt Dunham and Christopher Stockley were 2.66 seconds behind at 1500 metres, and they pushed the rate up to 40 in an effort to cut the gap. O’Donovan and McCarthy more than covered the push – they moved away, making their last 500 metres the fastest of the whole race.
However, the fastest crew of the five heats was the Swiss unit of Raphael Ahumada Ireland and Jan Schaeuble. Their time of 6 mins 11.93 seconds was over three seconds faster than O’Donovan’s and McCarthy’s.
Siobhán McCrohan qualified for the semi-final of the lightweight single sculls with second in her heat. She swapped the lead with Gianina von Groningen of Romania until the final 600 metres, when the Romanian took over and won.
The young Ireland men’s pair had a fine battle with Spain in their heat. The Spanish would take it in the final quarter, but Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney (pictured) qualified with ease in second and the top four made it to the quarter-finals.
Jake McCarthy was the first Irish rower in action, but it did not go well. The first four crews would avoid the repechage in the lightweight single sculls, but McCarthy lost a battle with Belgium’s Marlon Colpaert for that fourth place. The Skibbereen man will compete in a repechage on Monday to endeavour to make the top 24 and a quarter-final place.

 The Ireland double of Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle kept the good run going with second place their heat and qualification for their quarter-final. The United States crew of Sorin Koszyk and Ben Davison were impressive winners, while Lynch and Doyle beat France to second place.   

 Due to forecast bad weather, the Tuesday schedule was brought forward and shortened. The Irish women’s pair race first at 8:52; lightweight women’s double 9.02, women’s double 9.22, women’s four 9.59, men’s four 10.09, men’s quadruple 10.44 and lightweight single sculler Jake McCarthy has his repechage at 11.55. All times Irish.  

Five Ireland Crews Compete on First Day of World Championships

And so it begins! Five Ireland crews compete on the first day of the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade tomorrow (Sunday), with six more scheduled for Monday, and the PR2 Mixed double of Katie O’Brien and Steve McGowan set for their first action on Tuesday.
The Ireland men’s double of Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle compete on the first day: their heat is at 12.50 Irish time.

Programme for Ireland crews at World Rowing Championships, Belgrade

 

Sunday

10.08: Men’s Lightweight Single Sculls (Jake McCarthy)

 

11.12: Women’s Lightweight Single Sculls (Siobhán McCrohan)

 

11.19: Lightweight Men’s Double (Fintan McCarthy, Paul O’Donovan)

 

12:01: Men’s Pair (Ross Corrigan, Nathan Timoney)

 

12.50: Men’s Double (Daire Lynch, Philip Doyle)

 

Monday

 

9:28: Womens Pair (Aifric Keogh, Fiona Murtagh)

 

9.49: Lightweight Women’s Double (Aoife Casey, Margaret Cremen)

 

10.25: Women’s Double (Zoe Hyde, Alison Bergin)

 

11.21: Women’s Four (Natalie Long, Sanita Puspure, Imogen Magner, Eimear Lambe)

 

11.35: Men’s Four (Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan, Adam Murphy, Jack Dorney, John Kearney)

 

12:24: Men’s Quadruple (Konan Pazzaia, Ronan Byrne, Andrew Sheehan, Brian Colsh)

 

Tuesday

 

9.30: PR2 Mixed Double Sculls (Steven McGowan, Katie O’Brien)

Courtmacsherry Win Senior Men’s Four at Irish Coastal Championships

Victory in the prestigious senior men’s four went to Courtmacsherry, at the Irish Coastal Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre today.
The west Cork crew (pictured) beat last year’s winners, Passage West, while Kilmacsimon were third.
Whitegate won the senior women’s four, with Kilmacsimon placing second and Passage West third.
Conditions were windy, with crews negotiating a course with a number of turns.
The Championships, which were hosted by Rosscarbery, ran over two days. The host club won the senior mixed four on Saturday.

NRC Hosts Irish Coastal Championships

The National Rowing Centre hosts the Irish Coastal Rowing Championships this weekend. The inland venue might seem an unusual choice, but the option of running 10 generally fair lanes and the onsite facilities are seen as big advantages by the organisers.
More than 1400 competitors are entered in 300 crews. Passage West from East Cork carried off the big prizes in fours for women and men in Schull last year, but Kilmacsimon and Courtmacsherry have been strong in recent competition.
The Championships will be hosted by Rosscarbery Rowing Club who should be a force at underage level, as will Whitegate from East Cork and Kilmacsimon.
Out pictures show action from the Championships last year in Schull.