Liam Gorman (Irish Times)
13 July 2009
Rowing National Championships: It was worth waiting for. NUIG won the “Big Pot”, the men’s senior eights title in the outstanding race last evening at the National Championships in the National Rowing Centre in Cork.
Commercial led early on, but Queen’s took over by half way and stayed in front for virtually the entire remaining 1,000 metres, seeing off push after push by NUIG – until the final one. NUIG caught and passed them virtually on the line to win by .4 of a second.
It was an amazing performance by Queen’s, a club which has been transformed this season by coach Mark Fangen-Hall. NUIG cox Ruadhan Cooke paid tribute to the Northern Irish college. “We were very very good, but we had to be at our best to beat them,” he said.
He gave huge credit to the NUIG stroke James Wall.
It was the first time since 1988 that the club from the Galway college had won this title on their own. They also took the new Hudson Boat Works prize for best overall club. It was fitting that Queen’s won the intermediate and novice eights, because this was a Championships where glory was spread around.
Former world champion in the lightweight single scull Sinead Jennings won her first national title – in the double scull with 19-year-old Ceara O’Connor. In yesterday’s single sculls final, Sanita Puspure came in 12 seconds ahead of Jennings. Puspure, a 27-year-old Latvian, hopes to row with her adopted country when she qualifies.
Eighteen-year-old Lisa Dilleen opted to put her club, Tribesmen, ahead of a lash at the senior title, and amassed four titles: the junior and intermediate singles; the intermediate double; and the junior four. It brought her to 11 titles in total.
The abiding images of Saturday was that Tribesmen four lifting their boat above heads after the medal ceremony – and getting a full shower from rainwater they had collected rowing up the course. It rained; it rained cats and dogs; the heavens opened. And then it rained some more.
Clever organisation meant that all the Championship events were completed. St Joseph’s took the junior 18 eight title ahead of new rivals Portora – indeed Bann edged out their Northern rivals for second place. But Portora had a good regatta. Their junior 18 and junior 16 women’s eights dominated their finals.
Skibbereen’s work with juniors also yielded dividends as 15-year-old Paul O’Donovan won the junior double and quadruple and the junior single scull to boot.
At more than twice O’Donovan age, UCD’s Seán Jacob can still do the business, and he won the men’s single title by a big margin.
The Muckross/Carlow composite had an assured win in the women’s senior eight. There was a touching aspect to this win: the boat is named Rebecca Daly in honour of the sister of Linda Daly, the number four rower in the crew. Rebecca Daly was just 12 years old when she died last year of cancer. “She’s the ninth rower in the boat,” said coach Seán Coffey.
Yesterday’s morning session produced two exciting finishes where three boats charged for the line together.
In the men’s intermediate coxed four UCD B led into the closing stages only to be passed by St Michael’s and Galway.
The novice single scull was even closer: just one second covered the winner, Turlough Hughes of King’s Hospital, Tom Sutton of Cork and Ian Ó Loinsigh of Trinity.