Wicklow woman Caoimhe Dempsey on winning team in Oxford v Cambridge boat race

Rower’s mother and grandmother were prominent sportswomen representing Ireland

The Cambridge crew, with Caoimhe Dempsey at centre fourth from left, celebrate after winning the 75th Women’s Boat Race. Photograph: Neil Hall/PA

The Cambridge crew, with Caoimhe Dempsey at centre fourth from left, celebrate after winning the 75th Women’s Boat Race. Photograph: Neil Hall/PA

 

There was joy for Ireland at the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race on Sunday with a double connection to the winning Cambridge women’s crew.

Caoimhe Dempsey (25) from Wicklow was part of the Cambridge crew which triumphed over Oxford at the 75th women’s contest.

Ms Dempsey took up rowing when she began studying psychology at Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) in 2014.

In seven years, she has gone from novice rower to winning the most fabled race in the sport.

Ms Dempsey was supposed to have participated in last year’s race but it was cancelled because of the pandemic. This year’s race did not take place on the River Thames as is traditional, but away from supporters on the Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

She is now a postgraduate student at the University of Cambridge and this is the second consecutive year she has been selected for the Blue Boat, the highest-level boat in the university.

Having studied for a Masters in developmental psychology at Cambridge, she is now studying for PhD in the same subject at Newnham College.

She told RTÉ Radio 1’s News at One programme: “My love for the sport is still building. It’s lovely to be able to compete.” Training was difficult as most of it had to be done at home because of restrictions.

Ms Dempsey has an excellent sporting pedigree. She made it three generations of the family to represent Ireland when competing at the Under-23 European Championships in 2017.

Her mother was a hill runner who represented Ireland, and her grandmother was an Ireland hockey international.

The other connection to Ireland on the winning Cambridge team comes via Sarah Tisdall,who grew up in Queensland, Australia. She is the granddaughter of Bob Tisdall, who won gold for Ireland at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles in the 400 metre hurdles.

Bob Tisdall, originally from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, won international acclaim in 1931 as a Cambridge athlete when winning the 120-yard hurdles, long jump, shot put and quarter mile against Oxford in the Varsity Match.