WHAT a fantastic year it has been for Ring Rowing Club.
Last Saturday night, their season culminated with the club receiving the club of the year title at the annual South West rowing (SWYCRA) awards night in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery.
Having won gold medals in six categories in the South West championships, they went on to win seven in the county finals and five in the All-Ireland finals.
At a sold-out banquet, a crowd of over 400 toasted Ring as the best from the south west.
The uplift in rowing is not confined to Ring. Since the O’Donovan brothers’ success in last year’s Olympics, there has been increased participation in rowing throughout West Cork. In the south-west championships, the numbers rowing increased by a third over the previous year, and this extra competition has undoubtedly contributed to a huge lift in rowing standards.
The intense competition in some categories was particularly notable. In the marquee events, the senior men and senior ladies, there were three different race winners in both categories during the campaign this year. Taking this competitiveness on to the All-Ireland finals in Donegal, five of the six sets of medals on offer came to West Cork.
Huge numbers of young people have also taken to the water. This was particularly evident in the U12 and U14 categories as the ten lanes available at regattas were not sufficient to cover all the crews wishing to compete, providing a new challenge for the organisers to deal with.
In those younger age categories, West Cork crews went on to take gold in three of the four All-Ireland races, and taking account of silver and bronze, took home an incredible seven out of the 12 sets of medals on offer. The future certainly looks bright for south-west rowing.
Historically, SWCYRA clubs have consistently performed well at All-Irelands, since their inception over 25 years ago. In the last decade, however, we saw the rise of clubs from the east Cork and the Kerry associations, and those associations have regularly eclipsed the south west.
All that changed in 2017. South-west clubs had their most successful All-Ireland in recent years, winning more races than the East Cork and Kerry clubs combined.
Congratulations to all involved, you certainly got West Cork rowing!