By Siobhan Cronin
and Brian Moore
THE magnificent success of the West Cork rowing duo has prompted a number of organisations and public figures to join in the many words of congratulations for the brothers.
First out of the blocks last week was the Cork Institute of Technology where Gary is a Business student. No doubt they will have been proud of his calculation, given on live TV last Friday night, that himself, Paul and Dominic Casey have spent ‘48.7% of the year away together’!
Fourth year student Gary was praised by CIT staff and students, who took time out of their work and study schedules on Friday afternoon to cheer on the West Cork two.
Gary was, earlier this year, presented with CIT’s International Achievement Award at the Annual Sports awards ceremony.
‘To participate in the Olympic Games is in itself a great honour and achievement and to win an Olympic medal is an exceptional accomplishment,’ said CIT president Dr Brendan J Murphy.
‘We are delighted for Gary, and his brother Paul, and extend our sincerest congratulations and best wishes to them both and to all athletes participating at the Games,’ he said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, also congratulated Paul and Gary O’Donovan on their success.
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said: ‘There has been a huge build-up to this race and right across Cork you could sense the excitement growing. It’s absolutely terrific to see Paul and Gary pull through and secure a silver medal. It’s a historic day for Rowing Ireland and for their hometown of Skibbereen.’
The deputy added that Paul and Gary had ‘acted as an inspiration for aspiring athletes right across Ireland, and are really superb role models for children. This has been a major boost for the Irish athletes in Rio,’ she added.
Senator Denis O’Donovan, Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann and a native of West Cork, said the two boys had been amazing ambassadors for Cork and Ireland. ‘They have personified the Olympic spirit and won over the whole nation with their positive attitude and unique west cork charm. This is also an amazing honour for Skibereen Rowing club. Paul and Gary are passionate about rowing and their victory will boost the sport across Ireland. Congratulations is also due to their coach Dominic Casey, his labour of love and devotion to Skibbereen and Irish rowing has paid rich dividends,’ he said.
Commenting on the achievement after the race, County Mayor Cllr Seamus McGrath said how proud he was of the brothers from Skibbereen.
‘I am absolutely thrilled for Paul and Gary O’Donovan on their historic performance in Rio. I am sure the whole country was on the edge of their seats as they came from behind to grab the silver medals. They are Ireland’s first ever medal winners in rowing, and it is especially satisfying that they are from Skibbereen here in Cork. We are immensely proud of them,’ he said.
The Mayor added that he will be hosting a Civic Reception for the brothers at County Hall at the earliest opportunity.
Another Skibbereen and Irish international rower, Shane O’Driscoll, was also keen to add his congratulations and said he was also not surprised that the O’Donovan brothers were in the medals.
‘They kept the pressure on the French lads right from the beginning, you could see them keeping a very close eye on Gary and Paul as they all crossed the half-way line. It’s fantastic not only for Gary and Paul but the sport as well, and it’s great for the morale in West Cork and across the country.’
The Southern Star’s social media pages were also inundated with wishes of congratulations and praise for the way the O’Donovans conducted themselves before, during, and after the events.
Our Facebook posts reached over 700,000 viewers, with over 90,000 Facebook users watching our videos in the last week alone.