BY CLARA O'BRIEN
OLYMPIC champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy reminded us all of how good they are when they powered to victory in their heat at the European Rowing Championships in Germany.
This is the first outing for the all-conquering lightweight men’s double this year, and the two Skibbereen men showed no rustiness. They won their heat and go straight into the A Final on Sunday with the fastest time out of the heats.
The lightweight women’s single and double had tough heats with only one crew qualifying straight into the A finals. Aoife Casey of Skibbereen Rowing Club raced the single, and finished in fourth position. Margaret Cremen (UCC RC) and Lydia Heaphy (Skibbereen RC) raced the double, also just missing the direct qualification, finishing in second place. In the last 500m the crew moved through the Polish double taking that second position from them. Margaret and Lydia raced together at World Cup II, taking home the bronze medals, and will be looking to make it to the podium races tomorrow.
The women’s pair of Fiona Murtagh (NUIG BC) and Skibbereen's Emily Hegarty (UCC RC) were also in action on Thursday. Only two crews could qualify directly into the A final and the Irish crew narrowly missed out, finishing in third place just .48 of a second behind second place. Coming to the line Fiona and Emily were continuing to gain ground on the Croatian pair, but ran out of water with Croatia pipping them by a bowball on the line.
Hegarty then took her place in the the first-ever senior Irish women’s eight that took to the water. The athletes from the four, double and pair made up the combination, with Leah O’Regan (Shandon BC) coxing them. The Irish crew were up against a strong crew from the Netherlands, who had won World Cup II back in June. After already having raced, the girls put up a strong fight, staying in touch with the Dutch crew throughout the race. Coming through the finish only two seconds separated the crews, but it was only one crew through to the A Final, so Ireland will have to race the Repechage tomorrow.
Also, Zoe Hyde (Killorglin RC) and Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians) qualified directly into the A/B Semi tomorrow morning, with a second place finish in the women’s double heat.
Eimear Lambe (Old Collegians), Tara Hanlon (UCC RC), Aifric Keogh (DULBC) and Natalie Long (Lee Valley RC) stormed their heat of the women’s four, leading from the start line and creating a clear water distance between the other crews through the middle of the race. The top two crews qualify straight into the A final, so the four will be out again on Saturday afternoon.
The PR2 Mix2x was the first Irish boat to take to the water this morning. With five entries in the event, all crews go straight into the A final on Sunday. Katie O’Brien and Steven McGowan, both Galway RC rowers, placed fourth in their race for lanes.
Live streaming of the racing can be found on the World Rowing website, and on RTE Player.