Henley may yield glory for Irish


ROWING: Although weakened by the decision of the rowing union not to release elite men - a sore point in particular with Neptune - the Irish entry for Henley Royal Regatta this year could yet yield at least one crew mounting the podium on Sunday week to receive a winners' prize from President Mary McAleese.

Neptune coach Neville Maxwell reports that his Thames Cup eight are in good shape - Commercial are also going in the Thames - and Garda and NUIG look to have real chances in the Britannia for coxed fours, in which Athlone are also entered.

The Temple Challenge Cup for college eights has one of the strongest Irish entries: Queen's, NUIG and Trinity will all mount a good challenge, as will UCD if they can overcome their recent loss of form.

Four of the top UCD oarsmen, Johnny Devitt, James McCullough, Con Collis and James Mangan, are entered in the quadruple scull and have the talent and form to make them contenders. They did well at Marlow regatta last weekend, finishing second to Leander, and are going "exceptionally well" in training, according to coach John Holland.

In other events, Lady Elizabeth, Galway and Belfast Rowing Club are entered in the Wyfolds for coxless fours, Belfast and Commercial in the Double Scull and Coleraine Academical Institution in the Princess Elizabeth for schools eights. Women's rowing is a relatively recent addition to Henley, but Becky Quinn will give Ireland a representative in the single sculling event.