One of the most memorable of Irish Championships ended fittingly with two hard-fought wins in big races in the final session. The Championships at the National Rowing Centre had managed to defy extraordinarily bad weather, but though the morning starts were early, keen competition had continued through the three days.
UCD won their fourth consecutive men’s senior eights title, fighting off torrential rain and a courageous attempt to dethrone them. Cork Boat Club started well, and even when they were passed, they did not let UCD confirm victory until the final 250 metres.
University of Limerick had a magnificent regatta, but their eight, a composite with Castleconnell, had just .6 of a second to spare over University of Galway in the women’s senior eight. James Mangan could not be there but the UL coach can be very proud of his charges.
UCD had also won the men’s novice eight. In keeping with all three days of the event, the spread of wins in the last session of finals of the regatta was wide: St Michael’s brought their tally for the Championships to four as Jack Rafferty and Fionn McDonnell beat Neptune in the men’s junior double. Shannon won the women’s junior quad by a big margin, Skibbereen the men’s intermediate coxed four, and Methodist College’s Sophia Young, who is just 15, won the junior 16 single, a non-Championships event.
There had been two earlier sets of finals – with two junior eights finals providing the highlights.
The first session actually had a pair of dramatic finishes. The men’s junior 18 eights featured a full-on battle of wills between St Joseph’s (‘the Bish’) and Enniskillen RBC. Enniskillen built up a slender lead, but St Joseph’s came back at them coming to the finish. The Northern Irish club produced a powerful drive to win by less than a length (.8 of a second) – the picture shows them just as they crossed the line.
The final of the women’s junior 18 four drew gasps from the crowd on the bank. St Michael’s were second and pushing Skibbereen hard coming to the line – only for Skibbereen to catch a boat-stopping crab just metres from home. St Michael’s took advantage and won, sparking roars of approval from their supporters.
Two senior finals gave University of Galway chance to impress. They won the women’s senior pair and men’s senior quadruple in quick succession.
Skibbereen got back to winning ways in the men’s intermediate pair, while the women’s intermediate single and men’s club two single gave Trinity’s DULBC and old boys’ club Lady Elizabeth the opportunity to win well.
Cappoquin A won the non-Championship men’s junior 16 double, while Commercial took the honours in a battle with UCD in the women’s club two eight. The session ended with the non-Championships women’s junior 16 eight, in which Castleconnell beat Enniskillen.
Enniskillen would also feature in the most eyecatching of the finals in the second session. The women’s junior 18 eight always looked promising. Could the Fermanagh club add this title to the one won by the boys?
St Michael’s are a revived club. They took the lead and repelled a spirited charge by Enniskillen to win.
Commercial also celebrated after they crossed the line in the men’s club two eight, where Trinity had given them a good race. The men’s junior 18 coxed four had a three-way battle: Skibbereen and Presentation, Cork featured, but it was Shandon which crossed the line first.
Shandon’s Ryan Spelman added to the glory of the light blues with his win in the men’s senior single sculls. Kealan Mannix of University of Limerick had been his main challenger. Monika Dukarska of Killorglin beat Grace Healy of DULBC to win the women’s senior single sculls.
The women’s intermediate coxed four gave UL another title, while their rivals for top club, University of Galway, took the men’s intermediate pair. Neptune won the women’s club two single.
Cappoquin, the first winners in a final on the day in the junior 16 double, added the non-Championship junior 16 single, while University of Limerick also had the fastest competitor in the men’s para single sculls.