Big rivals clash in weekend regattas

UCD men’s and women’s eights get chance to shine at Blessington

Sinead Jennings: standout name in Division One of the women’s single sculls. Photograph: Inpho

Sinead Jennings: standout name in Division One of the women’s single sculls. Photograph: Inpho

 

Two of the keenest rivalries of recent years add spice to a bumper weekend of rowing on Blessington Lakes. Metropolitan Regatta tomorrow will be the biggest event of the season so far and boasts a rare clash outside the Irish Championships of the powerful men’s senior eights of UCD and NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol.

But first up comes the rescheduled Irish University Championships this evening, when the senior women’s eights of UCD and Trinity will race each other.

The university regatta is a slimmed-down version of the original event and some colleges, including Queen’s University, will not take part. UCD are targeting a clean sweep of men’s senior, intermediate and novice eights – which would secure a win in the Wylie Cup. Their senior eight will have the boost of being able to call on Irish international Paul O’Donovan.

The crews in St Patrick’s blue and saffron could also win the women’s equivalent, the Bank of Ireland Cup. There is no need to manufacture a rivalry with Trinity College, their only opponents in the women’s senior eights – UCD’s refusal to take part in a re-row after a clash in the final at Trinity Regatta led to protests from Trinity stalwarts.

The Division One men’s eights final is set to be the final race at Metro, the second eFlow Grand League regatta of the season. The sheer size of the event – there are 364 crews entered in Grand League events, and 68 in under-14 and under 15 events – means that even with seven lanes in use the programme will run late into the evening.

The final race promises a rare shoot-out between the senior men’s eights of UCD and NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol.

The regatta also showcases international crews which will represent Ireland this season. O’Donovan, who is 19, is the standout entry in the Division One single sculls, and the men’s quadruple scull which may go in the World Junior Championships is entered. Sinead Jennings, is the standout name in Division One of the women’s single sculls.