Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will compete in the double at World Rowing Cup III
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THE Olympic medal-winning O’Donovan brothers have been split up for next week’s World Rowing Cup III regatta in Rotterdam.
Paul O’Donovan will be joined by another Skibbereen rower, Fintan McCarthy, in the Irish men’s lightweight double for the regatta in The Netherlands, which starts on July 12th.
Gary O’Donovan will compete in the lightweight single scull at Rotterdam, as will Fintan’s twin brother Jake.
This is a crucial year as the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria, at the end of August double up as an Olympic qualification regatta. That’s the first chance for countries to book their place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so Rowing Ireland is searching for the fastest combinations in several boats, including the men’s lightweight double.
While Gary (26) and Paul (25) have been the dominant force in the Irish men’s lightweight double in recent times and became national and international stars after winning Olympic silver in 2016 and world gold in 2018, another set of Skibbereen Rowing Club brothers, Fintan and Jake McCarthy (22) from Aughadown, have made huge strides in recent years, especially the past 12 months.
The four Skibb rowers are battling for two seats in the men’s lightweight double and the gap has closed considerably. It’s a great position for Rowing Ireland to have four elite rowers pushing one another.
Gary suffered a wrist injury training in New Zealand earlier this year that has hampered him. It meant he missed a lot of time in the boat and hasn’t spent as much time on the water as he would have liked.
At the European Rowing Championships in May, Rowing Ireland sent a lightweight double of Jake and Fintan, as Paul was busy with exams at University College Cork and Gary competed in the single. In Lucerne, Jake and Fintan finished fifth in the A final, while Gary, working his way back to fitness, was 16th in the single scull. Also, at the Skibbereen regatta in May, Fintan got the better of Gary in the men’s senior single scull race.
International selection trials were held at the National Rowing Centre last week where the O’Donovan brothers and the McCarthy twins raced in various combinations.
The decision was then made to put Paul and Fintan in the lightweight double for World Cup III, but the selection for the all-important 2019 World Rowing Championships has not been finalised yet.
It’s also very important to note too that it’s the boat that qualifies for the Olympics at the world championships, not the rowers. So, if Gary misses out on selection for the double in Austria, he can still force his way back into the boat for the Olympics next year, if Ireland qualify. After confirming the crews for World Cup III Rowing Ireland’s High-Performance Director Antonio Maurogiovanni said: ‘The World Rowing Cup III will see our senior team racing as part of the journey towards the World Championships and Olympic qualification.
‘The team is well preparing under the coaching of Dominic Casey and David McGowan at the NRC and we will continue to monitor their preparation in order to make sure that all the crews will line up in Rotterdam at their best current shape.
‘It will also provide us with important information for the final team’s selection for the World Championships in August.’
Also, Skibbereen Rowing Club duo Denise Walsh and Lydia Heaphy will form the lightweight women’s double for the World Cup regatta. They raced together internationally for the first time at the Europeans where they finished 12th overall.
The Irish crews will arrive and train in Rotterdam from Tuesday, July 9th, ahead of the world cup event that will see the new lightweight double combination of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy take to the water.
If they impress in Rotterdam, then it would be hard to see this new double being broken up ahead of the worlds next month.