High hopes for Irish crews at World Championships

High-performance director Morten Espersen believes all seven crews expected to at least make B finals in Amsterdam


There is a buzz around international rowing again, and Ireland will send a big team to the World Championships in Amsterdam in three weeks’ time. The Ireland junior team are also in action this weekend at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Bordeaux in France.

Seven crews and 14 athletes will represent Ireland at the World Championships.

Scullers Sanita Puspure (pictured) and Paul O’Donovan have proven themselves in international events this year, but Ireland high-performance director Morten Espersen has said all of the selected crews are expected to at least make B Finals (places six to 12) at the Bosbaan.

The women’s four were tested on Sunday and hit the mark set for them, and Denise Walsh, who collapsed at the World Under-23 Championships, has been passed fit and will partner Claire Lambe in the lightweight women’s double. Helen Walshe and Monika Dukarska will form a new double scull and Leonora Kennedy, who has struggled with a back problem, will partner Lisa Dilleen in the pair.

Espersen has high hopes for the lightweight men’s pair of Niall Kenny and Mark O’Donovan.

‘Pretty impressive’

They were picked for the World Cup in Aiguebelette, but had to withdraw because of personal reasons. “They are pretty impressive,” Espersen said after watching them train yesterday. The pair may be part of an Ireland lightweight four (an Olympic boat) which could be formed in the next few months. Former internationals Paul Griffin and Tim Harnedy were among a host of rowers who were training at the very busy NRC last weekend.

The Ireland Coupe crews were among that group. The team for the annual European Junior Rowing tournament is the strongest Ireland can muster, as Rowing Ireland has decided not to send crews to the World Junior Championships.

The women’s junior pair (Oisin and Dervla Forde) and double (Eimear Lambe and Jasmine English), could bring home medals from Bordeaux come Sunday evening. However, the formline in this category from last weekend’s Home International in Cork was worrying: Ireland’s junior women were third, just three points ahead of Wales. The regatta was a triumph for overall winners Scotland but gave the hosts grounds for hope: Ireland had eight wins, including an extremely close one by the men’s four (.36 of a second).

There were wins for newly-arrived talents: Emma Desmond won the lightweight single scull; pararower Katie O’Brien is just 17 but also won at Women’s Henley; Eimantas Grigalius won the single sculls.

The death of Denis Sugrue was sad news for rowing. The UCD man coxed the Ireland eight at the 1948 Olympics. Ireland team in Sports Round-up

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