Irish Championships draw huge entry
Death of Garda coach casts shadow
Former world champion Sinead Jennings will compete against her sister Catríona tomorrow. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Getty Images
The wait is over. Over a thousand Irish rowers will discover in the next three days whether all the training and racing through the terrible winter and spring and into this glorious summer was worth it.
The sad news of the passing of Brendan Duane, head coach of Garda Boat Club stretching back to the glory days of the 1970s, will be on many minds at the Irish Rowing Championships. He never sought the limelight but coached crews at the Olympic Games, World Championships, Irish Championships (overseeing seven senior wins) and Henley Royal Regatta (four wins between 1975 and 2008).
Today, there are six impressive women’s senior fours, but only one will be Irish champion. Defending their title are Skibbereen, who have bolstered their crew with Monika Dukarska of Killorglin; St Michael’s have four rowers from the best eight in the country in recent regattas; UCD can field two crews and Trinity their own strong four; Cork’s in-form pair has teamed up with Marie O’Neill and brought on board Lisa Dilleen of NUIG.
Tomorrow, it is the tale of the sisters. Sinéad Jennings, the former world champion in the grade will have a novel challenge as she bids to win lightweight single sculls: her sister Catríona Jennings, who ran for Ireland in the marathon at the Olympics last year is among the entries. Catríona Jennings has been sculling at a novice level with Commercial but Sinéad should come out on top here.
And then, on Sunday, comes the big one. The men’s senior eights final has produced superb finishes for year after year, and NUIG have won four of the last five titles. UCD punctured the hegemony in 2011, and should be the main threat again this year.