The Rowing Ireland trialing process began early this year, with hopeful athletes racing last weekend at the National Rowing Centre, Cork. The decision to run this regatta at this point in the season could prove very rewarding. Based on results, the High Performance Director, Morten Espersen, and the Lead Coach, Don McLachlan, will hope to put together some training groups around the country. From this base, crews will be developed for the 2014 season. This initiative is a very exciting prospect, considering the performances of the Irish boats that were assembled relatively late in the 2013 season; examples include the BW4- of Lisa Dilleen, Aifric Keogh, Ailish Sheehan and Emily Tormey (4th in U23 World Championships) and the W2x of Monika Dukarska and Leonora Kennedy.
For the athletes involved, the weekend provided an opportunity for individuals to gauge their fitness and speed before knuckling down for winter training.
A stiff headwind prevailed on both days. Below is a list of some of the notable results and performances from Saturday 28th Sunday and Sunday 29th of September. Separate events were held for each category on Saturday. Sunday was ‘Grand League’ style on place:
M1x, LM1x & JM1x
Sean O’Connor of NUIG BC recorded a victory in the Men’s scull, recovering from a slow start to overcome Carlow BC’s Aaron Bolger.
Perhaps not surprisingly, UCD scholar Paul O’Donovan was the outstanding sculler in the Lightweight 1x. Bronze medalist from last year’s U23 World Championship in Linz, O’Donovan showed his class fending off challenges from Niall Kenny (UCD BC) and older brother Gary O’Donovan (CIT RC).
David O’Malley of St. Michael’s RC was the clear winner of the Junior 1x, leading from start to finish.
Paul O’Donovan sculled to another victory in the M1x on the second day. He was not without opposition though, as his brother Gary went out with great intent and established a lead, only to be pushed into 2nd place position in the last 500m.
Junior sculler O’Malley was impressive again in this event. By making the ‘A’ Final, he managed to oust some experienced scullers in the process, and finished a credible 5th place.
M2- & MJ2-
The St. Michael’s duo of Finbar Manning and Aidan McEvoy were the dominant senior pair in this division on both days. Returning from a year out, Manning stroked a boat that looked long and powerful and triumphed over NUIG BC’s pair of Rob O’Callaghan and Mantas Pukelis (both U23 athletes).
David Keohane and Brian Keohane of Presentation College, Cork, won the JM2- with a comfortable margin of 16 seconds to spare over their nearest rivals.
W1x, LW1x & JW1x
The 2013 Women’s Double Scull of Monika Dukarska (Killorgan BC) and Leonora Kennedy (Portora BC) went head-to-head in what proved to be an exciting battle in the W1X. Dukarska went out hard and held a slight lead to the 1000m mark and opened the lead out by the 1500m. Kennedy was resilient and managed to narrow the gap to just 1 second between the two by the end.
Denise Walsh, who finished an impressive 6th at her first U23 World Championship last summer, recorded a comprehensive win in this event. Still U23, the Skibbereen RC athlete triumphed over former World Champion, Sinead Jennings.
Claire Beechinor of Cork Boat Club was the winner in the JW1x, followed closely by Natalia Klimek of SMRC and Emily Hegarty of Skibbereen.
Leonora Kennedy won the W1x on Sunday. Unfortunately Monika Dukarska was absent. Denise Walsh finished second, managing to stay ahead of Sinead Jennings who closed the margin considerably between the two lightweights since Saturday’s race.
Lisa Dilleen (Tribesmen BC) and Aifric Keogh (NUIG BC) was the crew to beat in the Women’s pair. Winners of last year’s Irish National Championships in the Women’s Senior pair, the Galway girls continued their good form and recorded convincing victories on both days.
Full results on rowingireland.ie.
Photo courtesy of Kaspars Puspure (Paul and Gary O’Donovan racing at the 2013 Early Season Trials, NRC)