Irish crew take honours performance with stylish

 

The weather was as placid as anyone could have ordered, but the huge Tribesmen Head of the River on Saturday offered some extremes all the same: the young men of the Irish under-23 development crew carried off the honours as the first eight home while 37-year-old John Armstrong, participating for the 20th successive time, competed in all three "heads" on the day and was in the winning quadruple scull.

The victory of the under-23s, who rowed as Tara, was emphatic - they outpaced second-placed NUIG by 9.5 seconds and Garda by 10.7. Three of the crew were from Skibbereen, who won six titles on the day.

Many of Saturday's competitors would not have been born when Armstrong first took part, yet he was a happy man on Saturday. His winning composite quad had a combined age of 137: Brendan Dolan and Emmet O'Brien are 33, while Donal McGuinness is 34. And Armstrong - "I'll keep doing it until it stops being fun" - finished second in the double scull with Dolan and fifth behind winner Albert Maher in the single scull.

The ever-excellent Neville Maxwell and Tony O'Connor had a close look at the Quincentennial bridge, but they dominated the open pairs event, winning by 29.9 seconds.

This week's national trials will play a part in deciding whether they seek to qualify for the Olympics as a heavyweight double or as part of a lightweight four.