As is normality on the Third and final Day of the Irish Rowing Championships, Sunday's racing was met with high levels of anticipation and expectation from rowers throughout Club and University level, for some of the most competitive racing events of the weekend. Queen's featured in the key races of the day: the Men's Novice Coxed Four, the Men's Intermediate Double Sculls, the Women's Novice Eight and the Men's Senior Eight. The first race of the day was the Men's Novice Coxed Four, which consisted of the Stern Four of the Men's Novice Eight which raced on Friday. The Eight had always been the priority for the Novice Men and it's always difficult to re-motivate a crew for further racing after their main objective had not been completed, but the Novice Men did a solid job of breaking themselves back into it, promisingly taking 2nd place in their Heat, with a time of 9:48.47, narrowly being beaten by UCD's 9:48.03.
There was now much speculation for their Noon Final. In the final stages of the Men's Novice Fours Final, UCD looked set to win, with Queen's coming in third. Yet, in the last 500m, the Queen's Men launched themselves at their Dublin rivals, making a push and coming back at them with serious distances being gained with every stroke. The Queen's Men were victorious in a classic finish, pipping UCD to the line to come 1st with a final time of 7:49.87, to UCD's 7.50.79, while Cork rivals UCC finished 3rd with a time of 7:55.25. A fantastic result in a very competitive category, as all four rowers and their cox, Peter Ramsey, only picked up the sport for the first time last September. The result was also a credit to the Coaching Efforts of Paddy Doherty, Damian Hannon and Steven Lockwood, who put in the time and effort with the Novice Men throughout the season. Congratulations to both the Coaches and the Competitors for their Victory!
The Stroke-Man for the Coxed Four Michael Molloy, who also stroked the Novice Eight on Friday, had this to say about their performance in the Coxed Four:
The race was tough and competition good. UCC gave us a good fight and our rowing stayed clean in the last 250 which I think gave us the win. Haven't a clue what Peter said in the wind up, I just remember him making calls saying that we were taking seats.
Next it was the Ladies' Club time to shine, as the highly regarded QUBLBC Novice Eight took to the water of Inniscarra Lake to race in the Heat for the Women's Novice Eight event. The Queen's Ladies won their Heat (times are unfortunately unavailable) to enter the Final with much anticipation behind them as well as on the Novice Bann Eight. The Final came down to the Queen's Ladies battling it out with the Coleraine Ladies for the top position. It was a true dogfight in the middle of the Race with not much between the two leading crews, but the Queen's Ladies consistently maintained a lead over the Coleraine Rowers, who eventually lost their close proximity to the Queen's Ladies in the final stretch of the race. The QUBLBC Novice Eight stormed ahead to a half length victory over their Coleraine rivals. A brilliant victory for the Ladies and the Ladies Club, who had achieved what they had set out as their main goal. As with the Novice Men, this Victory is a credit to not only the Rowers but also to the Coaches of the Novice Ladies throughout the season: Julie Lynch, Ellen Thompson, Andy Wells, Stuart Kelly and Emma Kerrigan. Congratulations QUBLBC!
Stroke-Woman for the Eight, Roisin Maguire had this to say:
Looking back at the final it's all a bit of a blur. We went in having won our heat relatively comfortably and the conditions were in our favour but we also knew that Bann were strong contenders. Our boat led from the start, Bann made it a very hard race but every girl in the Queen's boat gave it their all, we knew we'd done the training and we deserved the championship!
In the penultimate race of the Championships for the Men's Club, Queen's Scullers Mark McMullan and Luke McCann raced in the Men's Intermediate Double Sculls competition, another hotly contested event of the weekend, with only the top two crews of each of the three heats being able to race in the Final. Queen's Rower James Cook was originally set to race with Mark in the Double but due to severe back injuries which proved afflicting during the training in the run up to the Championships, he was unfortunately unable to race and Luke McCann stepped in to compete in his place. Their Heat underwent a 'Restart' due to unforeseen complications at the Start-Line. The scullers gave it everything they had when the Race restarted, in what proved to be a very tough heat, where they finished in 4th place. Local crew Belfast Boat Club finished in 1st in their heat, who went on to finish 3rd in the Final with a time of 7:36.39, while the 'B' double from Skibbereen finished 1st in the Final with a time of 7:30.60. (Times are unfortunately unavailable for Mark and Luke's heat) A tough race for the Scullers, both of whom are finishing their first year of Rowing for Queen's having competed previously at Junior Level for Methody (Luke) and Coleraine Inst (Mark). Both Rowers rowed hard together under harder circumstances including Luke being more fatigued due to his previous races in the Single Scull over the weekend and both Scullers not having the same level of training experience as other crews due to the complications of James Cook's injury.
Mark McMullan commented on their performance together:
First of all I’d like to give a big thank you to Luke for stepping in at the last minute despite having already raced on Friday and Saturday. Luke is a very competent sculler and his rowing style was very easy to adjust to. Being a lightweight crew racing into a strong headwind against some very strong competition, we were already at a disadvantage and the restart really took it out of us. However, I don't think either of us wanted to give up and we kept pushing all the way to line.
The Most anticipated race was of course the Men's Senior Eights Race. This year's Rowing Season saw a number of cancellations of key Head Races and Regattas, specifically London HORR and Irish University Championships which are typically good events to gage the calibre of the top crews for the season. Seeing that the last race which featured the top Senior Crews of Irish Rowing racing against one-another was back in March at Erne Head of the River , there was much speculation to be made.
The NUI Galway- Grainne Mhaol composite took an early lead in the race and remained there as the QUBBC Senior Men battled it out with UCD to the line, sitting in third place coming out of the 1000m mark and into the final stretch of the race. During what initially looked like a second place finishing position for UCD, Queen's emptied the tank to claw back a lead in a final push to finish ahead of the Liffey rowers in 2nd place, with a time of 6:17.87 to UCD's 6:17.94. NUI Galway-Grainne Mhaol came 1st, with a time of 6:17.94.
This was a very disappointing result for the Queen's Men, after a hard season which the Senior Men made sure to persevere through, spurred on by the objective of winning 'The Big Pot.'
It is still a great achievement to finish in Second Place after some even expecting Queen's to not be 'competitive enough.'
The Senior Eight Strokeman, Chris Beck, who has just finished his first year of University at Queen's and his first year of rowing for Queen's, having rowed at Junior level for RBAI previously, had this to say:
Days leading up to senior 8 the preparation was very good and everyone was focused and determined. The race itself obviously had a disappointing outcome for us, however absolutely everyone from bow to cox did what was asked. Our race plan was executed perfectly and we had a fantastic race especially the last 1000m which was quicker than most of the field. Unfortunately our first 500 left us short as NUIG simply had a more explosive start. Carol coxed fantastically and she needs to hold her head up, as well as all the other lads who put so much in on race day and everything leading up to it.
Here is a complete re-cap of all of the Queen's Results of the Weekend:
Women's Novice Coxed Four: Heat: 3rd, 8:09 Final: 3rd, 8:24
Men's Lightweight Single Scull (McCann): Heat: 3rd, 9:14 Final: 5th, 9:10
Men's Novice Eight: Final: 4th, 7:06
Men's Senior Coxless Four: Final: 6th, 7:08
Men's Senior Pair: Heat: 3rd Final: 5th, 7:59
Women's Novice Single Scull (Edwards): Heat: 1st, 11:30 Final: 3rd, 11:10
Men's Intermediate Single Scull (McCann): Heat: 2nd (Time unavailable) Semi-Final: 4th, 9:14
Men's Novice Coxed Four: Heat: 2nd, 9:48.47 Final: 1st, 7:49.87
Women's Novice Eight: Heat: 1st, (Time Unavailable) Final: 1st, 7:34.56
Men's Intermediate Double Scull: Heat: 4th (Time Unavailable)
Men's Senior Eight: Final: 2nd, 6:17.87
And so we come to the official end of the Rowing Season for Queen's. Queen's Rowing would like to thank Lady Victoria Boat Club for all it's continued support and the support provided for Queen's Rowing throughout this Rowing Season, as well as to all the followers and supporters of Queen's Rowing, particularly everyone who has helped prepare weekend porridge servings for the student Athletes of Queen's Rowing, in particular Pamela Cunningham. Well done also to this year's Club Committee, who worked well together to steward the club in the right direction throughout the season. Congratulations again to the Women's Novice Eight and the Men's Novice Coxed Four! Go on Queen's!