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Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy switch focus to Paris Olympics after ‘solid dose of reality’

May 30th, 2024 8:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy switch focus to Paris Olympics after ‘solid dose of reality’ Image
Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy finished 3rd in the World Cup II in Lucerne.

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A SIMPLE stat to highlight the heights Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy have reached – their podium finish at World Cup II in Lucerne was the tenth time the Skibbereen dream team has medalled together at international level, but this was their first bronze.

They’ve snaffled up SEVEN gold and TWO silver medals at world level since joining forces in 2019, and consistently brought the big prizes back to Skibb, so finishing third is not what the Olympic and World champions are used to.

Context is important here. This was O’Donovan and McCarthy’s first outing together in this Olympic year, as McCarthy missed the European Rowing Championships through illness. They’re not at pull-like-a-dog pace just yet.

The two crews that finished ahead of them in Sunday’s A final of the lightweight men’s double sculls have been pushing the pace in 2024 – winners Italy have now won the two World Cup regattas and finished second at the Europeans, while Switzerland, second last weekend, are now the European champions and have finished second in both World Cup events.

‘Solid dose of reality with bronze this weekend in Lucerne,’ McCarthy wrote on social media. ‘Very happy to be healthy and racing hard again after some very frustrating months. A huge thanks goes out to everyone supporting from behind the scenes for getting things back on track – you know who you are. Still in the fight, see you in Paris.’

The fire will have been lit in Lucerne, as Sunday’s A final saw the Italian duo of Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares hit the front from the start, build a lead and stay in front. The Irish double and Switzerland were involved in a fierce tussle from the start, the Skibb men ahead at the half-way mark, the Swiss boat nudging ahead with 500 to go. Both boats closed in on Italy in the final quarter, with Switzerland holding off O’Donovan and McCarthy by 0.18 of a second in a gripping sprint to the line; the fine margins rowers live by. They had to settle for bronze now, but the Skibbereen duo will be the men to beat in Paris.

Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen in action in the lightweight women's double.


Also Paris-bound is the Irish women’s lightweight double of Skibbereen Rowing Club’s Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen, who finished fifth in the A final in Lucerne. Like the men’s lightweight double this was also their first outing of the season, and while they were never in the battle for medals on Sunday, they’ll take the positives from this outing.

Results –  Lightweight men’s double A final: 1. Italy 6:17.08; 2. Switzerland 6:18.13; 3. Ireland 6:18.31; 4. Norway 6:23.26; 5. Spain 6:23.40; 6. Belgium 6:24.64. Lightweight women’s double A final: Great Britain 6:54.83; 2. New Zealand 6:57.68; 3. USA 07:01.37; 4. Canada 7:03.43; 5. Ireland 7:04.03; 6. China 7:09.65.

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