BY CLARA O’BRIEN
OLYMPICS champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy reminded us how good they were when they claimed victory in their round at the European Rowing Championships in Germany.
This is the first outing for the conquering lightweight men’s double this year, and both Skibbereen men showed no rust. They won their heat and qualified for the A final on Sunday with the fastest time out of the heats.
The lightweight women’s singles and doubles had tough heats with only one crew advancing directly to the A finals. Skibbereen Rowing Club’s Aoife Casey rode the singles and finished fourth. Margaret Cremen (UCC RC) and Lydia Heaphy (Skibbereen RC) ran the double, also narrowly missing direct qualification, finishing in second place. In the last 500 meters, the crew crossed the Polish double by taking second place from them. Margaret and Lydia raced together at World Cup II, winning the bronze medals, and will try to get on the podium tomorrow.
Skibbereen’s women’s duo of Fiona Murtagh (NUIG BC) and Emily Hegarty (UCC RC) were also in action on Thursday. Only two crews were able to qualify directly for the A final and the Irish crew narrowly missed out, finishing in third place just 0.48 seconds off second place. Coming to the line, Fiona and Emily continued to gain ground on the Croatian pair, but ran out of water with Croatia passing them with a ball over the line.
Hegarty then took her place in the first-ever senior Irish women’s eight that took to the water. Fours, doubles and duet athletes formed the combination, with Leah O’Regan (Shandon BC) as coxswain. The Irish crew were up against a strong crew from the Netherlands, who had won World Cup II in June. Having already raced, the girls put up a good fight, keeping in touch with the Dutch crew throughout the race. At the finish, only two seconds separated the crews, but there was only one crew until the A final, so Ireland will have to contest the repechage tomorrow.
In addition, Zoe Hyde (Killorglin RC) and Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians) qualified directly for the A/B semi-finals tomorrow morning, with a second place finish in the women’s doubles.
Eimear Lambe (Old Collegians), Tara Hanlon (UCC RC), Aifric Keogh (DULBC) and Natalie Long (Lee Valley RC) stormed into their women’s four heat, leading from the start line and creating a distance of clear water between the other crews until the middle of the race. The top two crews qualify directly for the A final, so all four will be absent again on Saturday afternoon.
The PR2 Mix2x was the first Irish boat to take on water this morning. With five participants in the event, all crews advance directly to the A final on Sunday. Galway RC rowers Katie O’Brien and Steven McGowan finished fourth in their lane race.
Live streaming of the race is available on the World Rowing website and RTE Player.