Sport

West Cork’s top athletes receive financial boost

March 8th, 2023 3:45 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan celebrate after winning gold in the lightweight men’s double sculls final at the 2022 Worlds. (Photo: INPHO/Detlev Seyb)

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EIGHT of West Cork’s top athletes have been included in Sport Ireland’s International Carding Scheme for the next two years.

Olympic gold medallists Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are two of 32 Irish athletes who have been awarded the top category of Podium funding, with €40,000 per year, for 2023 and 2024 in the lead up to the Olympic Games in Paris.

The International Carding Scheme provides financial support for athletes’ training and competition programmes, and if athletes achieved the necessary criteria in 2022, then they will be included for two years, subject to the terms and conditions of the scheme. There are three categories – Podium (€40,000), World Class (€25,000) and International (€18,000).

Five Skibbereen rowers have been included on the International Carding Scheme for 2023 and ’24, helping them in their quest to make an impact at next year’s Olympics. As well as the Irish lightweight double dream team of O’Donovan and McCarthy being awarded Podium funding, so too has Tokyo Olympic medalist Emily Hegarty and 2022 World medalist Aoife Casey. Skibbereen rower Lydia Heaphy, part of the Irish women’s lightweight group, has been awarded World Class funding of €25,000. 

In athletics Darragh McElhinney and Phil Healy – both will be in action for Ireland at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul this weekend – have been awarded International funding of €18,000 per year, though Healy is one of a number of athletes who have been included in the scheme for 2023 only. The Irish women’s 4x400m relay team, which Healy is a part of, has been awarded pool funding of €60,000 per year for the next two years.

Cill na Martra boxer Christina Desmond, a 2022 European silver medal winner and who won gold at last weekend’s 74th Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria, has been awarded Podium funding of €40,000.

‘The primary purpose of this funding is to support Irish athletes in reaching finals and achieving medals at European, World, Olympic and Paralympic level,’ Sport Ireland explained. They will invest €3,486,500, under the International Carding Scheme, in 2023.

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