BY NIAMH HAYES
OVER 50 rowers, 24 medals and one Irish record – these are the numbers that summarise the West Cork contingent of river, coastal and offshore rowers at the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships, which were held at UL Sports Arena last weekend.
The lightweight men’s open category was always going to be the one to watch with seven Skibbereen rowers, many of whom are vying for a spot in an Olympic boat, lined up against each other. Although two ergometers were left empty, with the absence of Gary O’Donovan and Mark O’Donovan, the other five did not disappoint, rowing under the watchful eye of coach Dominic Casey.
Paul O’Donovan, wearing his UCC colours, rowed 2000m in a time of six minutes, 4.8 seconds, knocking 1.4 seconds off his previous time and setting a new Irish record. His unique technique got people talking but he must have been doing something right to pull such a time!
Fintan McCarthy was hot on his heels with a time of six minutes, 10 seconds; Shane O’Driscoll finished third in six minutes, 11.5 seconds; Jake McCarthy came fourth in six minutes 18.3 seconds; and Aodhan Burns finished fifth in six minutes, 28.4 seconds. As this competition is part of the high-performance trial process, the fact that the times were so close between these Skibbereen rowers means it could be all still to play for in terms of filling those Olympic seats.
Other notable winning Skibbereen performances include Emily Hegarty (UCC) in the women’s U23 2000m, Finn O’Reilly in the men’s junior 18, Orla Hayes in the lightweight women’s 30-39, Emily Dulohery in women’s 34-42 1000m and Sharon Murphy in women’s 50-54 1000m and 50-59 500m.
Due to the sheer volume of underage rowers competing, medals are hard to come by in all categories from junior 13s right up to junior 18s and U23s, but the Skibbereen rowers performed superbly well in these categories.
As always, the local coastal and offshore clubs were well represented, with underage members from Castletownbere, Kilmacsimon, Ring and Rosscarbery rowing clubs.
Silver medals went to Gavin O’Donovan from Ring in the men’s junior 16 and Thomas Otway from Kilmacsimon in the men’s junior 18. Rosscarbery had ten underage members who pulled impressive times but finished outside of medals, again due to the sheer volume of entrants.
Courtmacsherry, Galley Flash, Kilmacabea, Kilmacsimon, Myross and Rosscarbery rowing clubs were all represented by adult members.
Courtmac’s Chris O’Connor rowed three races, finishing second in the lightweight 60-69 2000m. Kilmacabea’s Petra Klabenesova won two silver medals in the 30-39 2000m and 27-33 1000m, while Niamh Hayes of Galley Flash picked up a bronze in that category.
David Duggan from Kilmacsimon rowed four races, picking up two golds and one silver medal in the 1000m, team relay and 2000m races respectively. He was joined by Declan O’Sullivan and Eddie Lyall in the relay.
David O’Driscoll of Myross won a bronze in the 55-59 1000m, while Tadgh O’Regan finished fifth in the lightweight 50-59 2000m. Rosscarbery’s Anna O’Donoghue won silver in the 34-42 1000m, while Noreen O’Sullivan won bronze in the 50-54 1000m. Martin Hehir, Gavin Fox and Finbarr McNulty all performed well for Ross.
The World Indoor Rowing Championships takes place on February 7th and 8th with four West Cork athletes set to make the trip.