Olympic gold heroes Paul and Fintan battle for Irish men’s senior title at rowing championships

July 15th, 2022 9:28 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Skibbereen's Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan were crowned European champions, again, on Sunday morning. (File photo)

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SKIBBEREEN’S – and, by default, Ireland’s – only Olympic rowing gold medallists will be in direct competition at this weekend’s Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre at Inniscarra.

While Fintan McCarthy will fly the Skibbereen Rowing Club flag, his partner in crime in the Irish men’s lightweight double, Paul O’Donovan, will be in action for UCC, where he is studying medicine. Together, they’ve conquered the Olympics, the Worlds and the Europeans, but on Sunday they will battle it out in the men’s senior single sculls final. A prized Irish championship title is up for grabs.

At the 2021 nationals, heavyweight rower Daire Lynch caused a shock when he beat both O’Donovan and McCarthy into second and third respeectively. Lynch isn’t in the entry this year so this could become a straight shoot-out between the two Olympians from Skibb. Also in the hunt will be the Skibbereen trio of Gary O’Donovan, Finn O’Reilly and Michael Hourihane, while Rosscarbery’s Kealan Mannix races for UL.


Skibbereen Rowing Club, the most successful rowing club in the country, will look to add to their record haul of 186 titles this weekend. They’ve assembled a strong squad, spearheaded by Fintan McCarthy, Gary O’Donovan and Lydia Heaphy, who is back in Skibb colours after her time at UCC.

Worth noting at this stage that four Skibbereen rowers – Aoife Casey, Emily Hegarty, Paul O’Donovan and Jake McCarthy – will wear UCC colours this weekend. But there are races where UCC and Skibb will combine, like the women’s senior eight composite crew that will see Heaphy, Orla Hayes and Marie Pigott join Olympians like Emily Hegarty and Margaret Cremen. Also, the men’s senior eight final on Sunday evening will see a Skibbereen/UCC crew take to the water, including six Skibb rowers (Fintan McCarthy, Oisin Boyle, Finn O’Reilly, Michael Hourihane, Eoin Murran and Daire Kavanagh) along with Paul O’Donovan and Ronan Byrne of UCC.

Here is the talented Skibbereen RC squad heading to the championships (Friday to Sunday) –

Senior Women: Orla Hayes, Kate O’Brien, Louise McCarthy, Alyssa Mannix, Lydia Heaphy, Marie Pigott.

Senior Men: Fintan McCarthy, Gary O’Donovan, Oisin Boyle, Finn O’Reilly, Michael Hourihane, Eoin Murran, Daire Kavanagh.

Junior Women: Kelly Oforji, Aoife Hendy, Jessica Crowley, Ailise O’Sullivan, Hazel Deane, Niamh O’Donovan, Lucy Cannon, Alannah Keane.

Junior Men: Cathal O’Donovan, Christopher O’Donovan, Cathal McCarthy, Dominic Casey, Jonathan McCarthy.

Cox: Louise Murran.

Skibb will also have a strong squad of junior 16 men and women’s crews racing including Rowan O’Driscoll, Stephen Harrington, James Stout, Tomas Burchilll, Oran Roycroft, Ultan Kearney, Eoin O’Donovan, Patryk Balasa, Chloe O’Donovan, Audrey McCarthy, Eimear Martin, Caitriona O’Neill, Julia Cotter, Orla Seymour, Eveanna Goulding and Brianna McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Skibbereen Rowing Club enjoyed great success with eight wins at the Rowing Ireland 1K Classic (junior championships) last weekend at the National Rowing Centre. Winners included – MJ15 1X: Tomás Burchill, James Stout; WJ15 1X: Hazel Deane, Aoife Hendy; WJ14 1X: Audrey McCarthy; MJ15 4X+: Tomás Burchill, James Stout, Patryk Balassa, Eoin O'Donovan; WJ14 4X+: Abigail Fowler, Sarah Coughlan, Eve Waugh-O’Brien, Audrey McCarthy; WJ15 8X+: Hazel Deane, Alannah Keane, Chloe O'Donovan, Audrey McCarthy, Eveanna Goulding, Eve Waugh-O’Brien, Abigail Fowler, Robin Arentz. Cox: Bernadette Walsh.


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