Dilleen and D'Urso pipped


ROWING:IRELAND’S DOUBLE scull of Lisa Dilleen and Laura D’Urso showed ambition and courage in their A final at the World Junior Championships in Brive in France on Saturday, but came up just short of a medal.

The stellar German crew of Julia Lier and Marie-Catherine Arnold won gold – adding to the one they won last year in the quadruple scull – with Ireland narrowly losing out to the Czech Republic and China in a three-way fight for the other two medals.

Lier and Arnold had a characteristically fine start – but Ireland, and Ireland alone stayed in touch with the crew in the lane beside them. However, by 750 metres in, the Germans had opened a two-length lead on the gutsy Irish, and, across the course in lane two, the Czech Republic were drawing level with Dilleen and D’Urso.

As the Czechs established themselves in second, China challenged and then headed the Irish, securing bronze for themselves. Ireland were 1.26 seconds behind them at the end – all of 11 seconds ahead of Romania in fifth.

The big challenge for a win may have cost the Irish, as the crew’s coach Gearóid Mitchell conceded. “They possibly did go a little too much for gold,” he said. “Their lack of experience at this level also told. It’s the old one of you have to lose one to win one.”

Mitchell said that, physically, the Irish were comparable to their rivals, but some other competing athletes were appearing in their second or even third World Junior Championships. Ireland’s draw in lane five was unfortunate, as they became a “little isolated” on the far side of the course as the Czechs and Chinese drove each other on in lane two and three.

It has been a remarkable season for the two Irish 18-year-olds. Dilleen, from the Tribesmen club in Galway, and D’Urso, a Donegal woman with Sicilian roots who rows for City of Derry, built on a two-gold haul at last year’s Coupe de la Jeunesse with an emphatic win at the Munich junior regatta.

Dilleen also won at junior level at the Irish and British indoor championships. Last month she took four national titles, bringing her total to 11 – more than halfway to Neville Maxwell’s record of 21.