FOURTEEN years after he last rowed for Ireland on the international stage, Kenneth McCarthy is ready to take on the world again.
The 37-year-old from Aughadown, Skibbereen was convinced his international rowing days were behind him. James Lupton (39), also from Skibb, was the same.
But this duo along with Vincent Browne (37) from Union Hall and Andrew O’Sullivan (25) from Glandore – with their cox Ciara Deasy from Union Hall – are gearing up to represent Ireland and Myross Rowing Club on the world stage next month.
This quartet make up the Myross men’s quad and they recently won the Irish Offshore Rowing Championship national title, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Castletownbere.
This success has opened the door to the World Rowing Coastal Championships that will be held in Victoria, Canada from October 11th to 14th.
It’s an opportunity too good to turn down, Kenneth says.
‘We never thought that we would win the national title, and the thought of competing for Ireland at a world championship level was as far away as all the waves between West Cork and Vancouver,’ he admitted.
At the medal presentation on that Sunday evening, Kieran Kerr of Rowing Ireland asked the Myross men if they were going to compete in Canada.
One of the crew members replied: ‘They had hassle trying to get me to come all the way down to Kerry, you hardly think I’ll go to Victoria!’
But the deadline to enter the world championships was the following day.
‘We put it on the back burner, went home and mentioned it to wives and partners and they thought we were mad to not take up the opportunity,’ Kenneth explains.
‘The deadline was Monday so pandemonium ensued and with each box ticked on the list, the impossible became a reality.’
Kenneth, James, Vincent, Andrew and Ciara, along with Richie Browne who has come on board as coach, will make the trip to Canada next month to represent Ireland.
But, as you’d expect, it’s not a cheap trip.
‘Obviously, as we left things to the last minute, costs are a little higher that we would have hoped,’ Kenneth says.
‘We will pay for everything, flights, accommodation, boat rental, etc., and we expect for it to reach somewhere in the region of €6,000 to €7,000.
‘It is a tall ask for us to come up with that much money in such a short time so if anyone would like to support us in any way we would be delighted with any support big or small.’
Any local business or person interested in helping a local team fly the Irish flag on the world stage is asked to contact Myross Rowing Club Martin Deasy by email: [email protected]
For Andrew and Vincent, it will be their first foray onto the world stage while Kenneth and James, who made their name with Skibbereen Rowing Club, are well used to the big occasions in river rowing.
‘Vincent, Ciara and Andrew have all been heavily involved in coastal rowing from a young age,’ Kenneth explains.
‘Equally, James and I have been heavily involved in river rowing from a young age. This year both James and myself, having gone all out to win the men’s senior eight Irish championship in the summer and narrowly missing out on gold jumped at the opportunity to try something different.’
Kenneth, who raced with Myross in the past, was back yawl rowing from April and James (who also rowed for Myross before) joined from August, filling in for Kevin McCarthy (Drinagh) who could not make the offshore championships due to prior commitments.
In the South West championship, Kenneth, Vincent, Kevin, Andrew and Ciara won every race at junior level and the overall title as well.
‘The highlight for us as a group was winning the All-Ireland coastal championships in Inniscarra in August. We had an excellent coach Denis McCarthy (Reenaroga) and great support from Myross Rowing Club volunteers and the community,’ Kenneth adds.
After the August yawl finals, Vincent’s brother Richie suggested that they try the quad (four-man boat) at the Irish offshore championships in Caherdaniel earlier this month.
Kenneth and James were well used to sculling with thousands of miles behind them, while it was new to Vincent and Andrew, and to Ciara.
But they worked hard and beat 17 other crews from around Ireland over the four kilometre course in Kerry, and now they’re heading to the world championships in Canada.