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West Cork is poised to send the region’s biggest-ever representation to an Olympic Games

May 23rd, 2024 9:50 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

West Cork is poised to send the region’s biggest-ever representation to an Olympic Games Image
Emily Hegarty (left) and the Irish women's four crew of Natalie Long, Eimear Lambe and Imogen Magner that have qualified for the Olympics.

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EMILY Hegarty’s starring role in qualifying the Irish women’s four for the Olympic Games this summer swells the number of West Cork athletes heading to Paris to SIX, and counting.

While the official selections will be confirmed closer to the Olympics, all signs suggest West Cork will have its BIGGEST-EVER representation on the world stage in Paris this summer. 

As well as Skibbereen rower Hegarty in the Irish women’s four, her club-mates and reigning Olympic champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy (Irish men’s lightweight double) and Aoife Casey (Irish women’s lightweight double) have already qualified their boats for the Games, while Skibbereen rowing mastermind Dominic Casey is the head coach of Rowing Ireland’s all-conquering lightweight group.

Bandon AC star Phil Healy looks poised to be selected on the Irish relay squads (women’s 4x400m and mixed 4x400m) that have qualified for the Olympics, and the Ballineen Bullet is also hoping to qualify in the 200m individual. Also, legendary Irish men’s hockey goalkeeper David Harte – twice voted the best hockey shot-stopper in the world – looks set to be included in the Irish squad heading to France. There is the possibility of even more West Cork athletes boarding the Team Ireland flight to Paris, with Darragh McElhinney and Nicola Tuthill also in the conversation.

For Aughadown woman Emily Hegarty, success at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland on Tuesday morning was hugely satisfying, as the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist qualified for her second Games. 

The Irish four of Hegarty (Skibbereen Rowing Club), Eimear Lambe (Old Collegians Boat Club), Natalie Long (Lee Valley Rowing Club) and Imogen Magner (Carlow Rowing Club) took one of the two Olympic spots that were up for grabs, winning the pressure-loaded race in 6:37.59, beating Denmark (who also qualified) by 0.79 of a second. ‘It was really satisfying to get the job done and also have the race that we knew we were capable of,’ Hegarty told The Southern Star.

‘It’s really special, two of the girls in the boat (Natalie Long and Imogen Magner) haven’t gone to the Olympics before so it’s really special to share that with them. It’s so exciting when you first get it.’

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