Irish Rowing Championships 2009

Queen's men deliver at Champs!

Last weekend, Queen's rowing finished out the season on a high, at the Irish Rowing Championships. Racing got underway on Saturday for Queen's. The racing schedule was brought forward due to anticipated bad weather, with racing commencing at 7am. The first race to get underway, was the women's novice IV, who despite a good row, failed to progress in a strong heat, finishing fourth. The men's intermediate VIII was next to take place. With seven crews entered, the event organisers decided on a straight final. From the offset, Queen's men edged their noses in front, and by 500m had gained a substantial margin on the field. Through the 1000m mark, Queen's established clear-water on the field, and continued to extend their lead to the finish. The crew finished in a time of 6:02.9, exactly 8 seconds ahead of second-placed Commercial RC. This was a convincing win by the intermediate crew, making up for the controversy surrounding Queen's 2005 men's intermediate pot. Coming into the slip, Queen's men were honored to be congratulated by both Neptune and Commercial, two crews gracious in defeat.

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Men's Intermediate VIII+ Irish Champions 2009.
left to right: Patrick Black, William Howell, Damian Hannon, Christopher Coyle, Marc Butler, Nathan Oliver (Captain), Jonathon Backus (stroke), Andrew Tubman (cox) and Gavin Meek.

The men's novice IV+ closed out Saturday's racing for Queen's. The crew was unfortunate not to progress to the final, finishing fourth in the semi-final.

Sunday's racing opened with the men's intermediate IV+. Three heats took place, with two crews to progress in each. The intermediate 'A' IV+ crew were first to race. The crew had an unsettled first 1000m, only finding form in the closing 1000m. By this stage they had left themselves too much work, and were held to third place by strong St. Michael's (overall winners) and NUIG crews. The story was much the same for the intermediate 'B' IV+, who finished last in their heat. The women's novice VIII+ was next to race.

Queen's ladies entered the novice VIII+ race with high hopes of taking the pot. In a straight final, NUIG and Queen's pulled away from the field early on. NUIG led the for the best part, and managed to see off repeated pushes by the Queen's ladies, attempting to regain contention. Unfortunately for Queen's, NUIG remained strong throughout, maintaining their lead to the finish, despite Queen's best efforts. The Queen's crew finished in a time of 6:53.2, just over 4 seconds behind the winners. The ladies were disheartened by the loss, but confident they couldn't have rowed better. After blood, sweat and tears had been shed, the crew congratulated the NUIG crew on their performance.

The men's novice VIII+ was next to race. In a five boat heat, Queen's men got the job done, finishing first, earning them a central lane for the final. The final neared the end of the day's racing, which saw crowds gather for the exciting finale of eights races. The race got underway, and was heavily contested to the halfway point. The lead constantly switched between Queen's and Trinity 'A', neither crew gaining more than a canvas on the other. At the 1500m mark, Trinity moved gaining a canvas, but Queen's hanged on. With 250m to go, on a shout of “relentless” from four man, Queen's attacked hard eating into Trinity's lead. The crew whipped up the rate in a devastating finish, taking the win by a half-length, in a time of 6:02.1. This was the first time Queen's took the novice pot since 1990, after coming so close on numerous occasions. The win also completed the perfect season for the novice crew, who are undoubtedly the most successful Queen's fresher crew to date. The crew ended their first season as Irish University Champions, British University Champions, Boat Race Victors and Irish Champions.

Men's Novice VIII+ Irish Champions 2009.
left to right: Ryan Hodgkinson, Patrick Beirne, Michael Monteith, Sean McCreesh, Declan Gollogly, Chris Smith, Bobby Kane, James Bradbury (stroke) and Karen Flanagan (cox).

Arriving to the slip, the novice crew roared support at the launching Queen's men's senior VIII crew, defining this tight-knit men's squad. The men's senior VIII+ final was set to be an incredible race, seven boats, various good mid-season results, and the first and final meeting of the crews in many months. The race got underway, and the commentator immediately picked out two crews, NUIG and Commercial. Commercial rowed out hard, hoping to upset the field, but by 500m, Queen's and NUIG were hot on their heels. Through 750m, NUIG and Queen's had overtaken Commercial, and began to leave to rest of the field. Queen's then moved on NUIG, gaining the lead and holding off successive pushes through the middle thousand. Queen's had at most three seats on NUIG when the crew began to fight back hard, eating into Queen's lead. With 200m to go, a canvas separated the two, 100m to go, dead level. Both crews hit the 40s in the final stretch, with one sound of the horn on the line. The crowd was left unsure of an outcome, whilst the photo finish was analysed. The announcement came, NUIG by 0.4 of a second! Both crews had left the field for dead, the winning time 5:39.5, 6 seconds ahead of third placed Commercial.

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Queen's and NUIG senior VIIIs wind for the line.
Photo-finish

Queen's men came close to the clean sweep of men's eight, to be denied by the narrowest margin. This made Saturday's intermediate win, bittersweet for six members of the senior crew. However, for a relatively inexperienced all-student crew to push an NUIG crew, with vast international experience as hard as they did, is nothing short of amazing. This seemed to be the consensus, as Queen's received warm applause lifting their boat back to the trailer.

2009 has proved an exciting season for Queen's rowing, and one which we hope to build upon next year. With a majority of rowers returning, 2010 looks set to be another great season. Queen's rowing would like to extend its thanks to all club alumni, coaching staff, supporters and the rowers for their hard work, dedication and countless hours training. Special thanks and farewell must be given to departing rowers, Pádraig Bolger, Niall Brady, Marc Butler and Michael Monteith. We wish you all the very best in your future working and sporting careers, and thank you for your contribution and camaraderie these past years.