Gráinne Mhaol spring surprise
ROWING/IRISH CHAMPIONSHIPS: TWO TREMENDOUSLY close finals – both won by Trinity crews – got the crowds going on the first day of the Irish Championships in excellent conditions at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.
But it was the surprising ease of Grainne Mhaol’s win in the men’s senior four which was the big talking point. The big face-off between the men from the old boys’ club of NUIG and Queen’s University will come tomorrow in the senior eights’, but the clubs looked set to sharpen their knives in this encounter. Instead Gráinne Mhaol made off with the spoils by half way. St Michael’s of Limerick finished a surprising second.
The record of NUIG and its off-shoots in this event is stunning: only twice in the last 11 years have another crew won. The death of long-time NUIG coach Tom Tuohy last year, and the hope of paying tribute to him, is the driving force for the Gráinne Mhaol crew of Dave Mannion, Alan Martin, Cormac Folan and James Wall.
Yesterday Trinity – in the best final of the first session, their men’s intermediate four beat NUIG, came like a train at the finish. Trinity’s intermediate women’s eight then replayed the feat in the last race, overtaking UCD and winning by two-tenths of a second.
Paul O’Donovan won the junior single sculls. The Skibbereen prodigy was bridging a gap of three years since his first junior singles title – when he was just 15. He was beaten in 2010 by Turlough Hughes and international duties ruled him out last year, when he finished fourth at the World Junior Championships. He represents Ireland again next month.
The Queen’s novice eight, with five first-year rowers, had an impressive win and Bridget Jacques, who will join O’Donovan on that Ireland junior team, partnered Lucie Litvack to a sparkling win in the junior women’s double for Belfast Boat Club. Skibbereen’s young senior women’s four won their third senior title in a row.
Galway wins extended beyond the NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol axis: St Joseph’s won the junior 18 eight and Galway Rowing Club won the men’s novice coxed quadruple. Niall Kenny won the lightweight single scull for UCC, while Muckross took the women’s junior four.
At the World Under-23 Championships in Lithuania, Ireland’s two men’s crews will compete in B finals today. The lightweight pair of Jonny Mitchell and Shane O’Donovan finished fourth in their semi-final and the open weight four were fifth in theirs.
Claire Lambe secured her place in the A/B semi-finals with a fine win in her repechage.