In The News

UCD's swell finish sees them take double (Irish Times)

UCD's swell finish sees them take double
Liam Gorman (Irish Times)
18 July 2011 

ROWING: THERE IS a tide which taken at the flood leads on to greatness. UCD reaped the benefits of the swell of big athletes who are cresting at the same time and won both the men’s and women’s senior eights titles at the National Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre in Cork on Saturday.

If the first day was beautiful and calm, the second misty and wet, then the third had lots of what rowers hate most: wind. Getting the boats aligned for the men’s senior eights final was “mayhem”, according to UCD number seven man Gearóid Duane, but once the race started his crew’s race plan – get out in front early and stay there – worked a dream. They led Queen’s University by three-quarters of a length at half way, and when NUIG/Grainne Mhaol unleashed a charge in the closing stages UCD were too far ahead.

It was UCD’s first “Big Pot” since 1983. “A long time coming, but worth it,” said Duane.

The women’s eight was a much closer race, however, with the Muckross eight encouraging the roaring crowds by pushing UCD right to the line.

The crowds who watched the final stages of the women’s single scull got drama too, albeit of a heart-rending kind. Monika Dukarska led within 10 strokes of the line only to capsize in a flash as Laura D’Urso closed – although the City of Derry woman did not look like she would have won. But win she did. “I was coming back into it. She must have panicked under pressure,” said D’Urso.

The 20-year-old Donegal woman is on scholarship in Clemson University where she does no competitive sculling. Yet, she also added the intermediate single sculls title to her tally. A former junior international, she says she may submit an entry from the US for next year’s Irish trials.

There was drama at the start of the men’s single sculls final when John Keohane, a contender for the title, was late and missed the race (he was unaware the race had been brought forward). Seán Casey was, meanwhile, bailing out his boat in the rising swell. The big Muckross man then charged down the course dealing well with a roaring tailwind and a gutsy challenge by 17-year-old Paul O’Donovan of Skibbereen, who came within 0.5 of a second of upsetting the former Olympian.

The spread of titles in rowing is such that rising talent will strike gold and a number of clubs went home very happy: St Michael’s had a clean sweep of the women’s junior sweep events; Castleconnell did the same trick with the men’s junior sculling events; Skibbereen took away six more titles and Bann and Queen’s saw their emerging talent make its mark.

But UCD opened well on the first day, were part of a controversial disqualification on the second, and won the biggest prize for both men and women at the end. Their championships. Definitely.

Skibbereen take three titles as UCD are disqualified (Irish Times)

Skibbereen take three titles as UCD are disqualified
Liam Gorman (Irish Times)
16 July 2011 

ROWING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: LIGHT RAIN and mist swept in from the west at the National Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre in Cork yesterday, and three of the main titles of the day headed the other direction as Skibbereen kept up their impressive strike rate. Controversy also arrived, with a dispute about UCD’s disqualification from the men’s intermediate eight.

The standout race of the day came in the women’s senior quadruple scull. Skibbereen’s Gillian Hosford, Orla Hayes, Christine Fitzgerald and Denise Walsh hunted down an experienced Old Collegians/Three Castles crew and beat them on the line.

Fitzgerald and Walsh added the women’s senior pairs title with little difficulty, and the men’s composite crew of Skibbereen/Lee Valley won the men’s quadruple scull from Queen’s.

The Belfast college notched up two victories: Eoin Mac Domhnaill and Mike Ewing were commanding victors in the men’s senior pair, and Queen’s also won the intermediate eight, beating Trinity into second. The win itself was remarkable because Queen’s stroke man, Charlie Cunningham, rowed with a broken bone in his hand, but this race was overshadowed by the crew that was not there.

UCD were “absolutely fuming”, in the words of club president Colm Daly, about not being allowed row in the semi-finals because their cox was late weighing in. UCD maintain that the cox was told that she had to have her registration card to do this and when she returned she was just four minutes late.

UCD lodged an unsuccessful objection but Daly said they would be taking the matter further.

The rise of young talented winners has impressed at this event: the St Michael’s junior women’s 18 eight; the Commercial intermediate women’s double; the Castleconnell junior double scull of Dylan Quigley and Adrian Sheehan which ran away with their final. But the most astounding win was by 16-year-old Hilary Shinnick of Fermoy in the the women’s junior 18 single scull.

Redemption day for UCD as Henley loss is quickly banished (Irish Times)

Redemption day for UCD as Henley loss is quickly banished
Liam Gorman (Irish Times)
15 July 2011 

ROWING: SOMETIMES THE chance to redeem yourself comes quickly. UCD won the men’s senior fours title at the National Rowing Championships yesterday, beating NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol in convincing fashion and banishing the demons of their defeat by the same opposition at Henley Royal Regatta two weeks ago.

That Henley loss came after a very wobbly row by UCD, but yesterday, in perfect conditions at the National Rowing Centre in Cork, Dave Neale, Finbarr Manning, Gearóid Duane and Seán Jacob were all but faultless. They led by a length at 1,500 metres and won by just under four seconds.

“Henley hung over us for the last few weeks. We had to get over it,” said Jacob. He said it was a test of whether they could be strong mentally – and they were. “We solved the problem,” said coach Pat McDonagh.

Cormac Folan of NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol offered his congratulations to the UCD crew. “Well done to them.”

Indeed, yesterday’s result sets up tomorrow’s Big Pot clash nicely. Having lost one title, the Galway crew will not easily yield the jewel in the crown which they have won in the last two seasons.

It was, in spite of the headline result, a very good day for Galway clubs. In a terrific race, St Joseph’s won the men’s junior 18 eight from Bann of Coleraine and NUIG won the women’s novice coxed four – from Galway Rowing Club.

In the senior events, the youth policy of Skibbereen Rowing Club paid dividends on the double. The crew which won the women’s senior four comfortably from Queen’s was stroked by Michelle (Shelly) Dineen, who is still a junior, and Denise Walsh and Christine Fitzgerald are just one year out of that grade. Orla Hayes, at 25, still young, was by far the oldest in the crew. Dineen and Walsh then added the women’s senior double title to the trophy cabinet with consummate ease.

The men’s senior double was a triumph for experience, however. Seán Casey (33) and Cathal Moynihan (30) of the Muckross club both represented Ireland at the Beijing Olympics and they are not easily upset when in full rhythm on the course. Their only real challengers were Michael Ewing and Rory O’Connor of Queen’s University, but the Kerrymen prevailed.

It was a day of seconds for Queen’s. UCD won the men’s intermediate coxed four, calling on the four men set to join the winning senior four in the eight – and Queen’s were second, a position they also filled in the women’s senior and intermediate fours and in the men’s novice coxed quadruple – which resulted in a surprise win for Shandon, who had two junior 16 athletes in their crew.

The business end of the men’s junior 18 single scull was a more local affair, as Neil Prendiville beat his Castleconnell clubmate Adrian Sheehan into second.

Trinity had their moment of glory when they bested UCD in the men’s novice eight. The day ended, however, with Anthony English, recently of the High Performance Programme, winning the lightweight single scull. His club? UCD. Yesterday was theirs. But tomorrow is another day.

Meanwhile, the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation have agreed to affiliate to Rowing Ireland.