Canoeing: Irish slalom team for season ahead finalised

A number of young contenders have put their hands up for selection

Caoimhe O’Ferrall excelled at the Irish Open at Lucan.

Caoimhe O’Ferrall excelled at the Irish Open at Lucan.

 

The Ireland canoe slalom team for the season ahead has been picked. Liam Jegou, Hannah Craig and Ciarán Heurteau, three proven internationals, will get their shot at the World Cup series and the European Championships, which serve as the Olympic qualifiers in each of their disciplines.

The presence of young contenders was noteworthy at the Irish Open in Lucan, the selection event, and a number have made it into the team.

In the men’s K1 (kayak), under-23 competitors Sam Curtis and Eoin Teague pushed Heurteau close, and they have been chosen for the senior team. There is just one place available for Rio at the European Championships in Slovakia in May, and it is a very long shot for any member of this team.

The situation is the same for C1 (canoe) competitor Jegou, and Craig, the K1 paddler who finished 10th at the London Olympics. Jegou (20), who is based in France and trains with some of the best paddlers in Europe, has the keenest chance of landing a Rio spot. Jake Cochrane and Robert Hendrick, who are also under 23, gave him quite a battle at Lucan, and will also represent Ireland on the international circuit this season.

Craig was the one woman’s senior to be chosen, though Aisling Conlan, who has been recovering from injury, may yet be included on a “discretionary” basis, according to Abe Jacob, the chair of the Athlete Selection Panel.

Caoimhe O’Ferrall, who is just 18, performed well enough to gain selection at both senior and under-23 level as a C1 paddler. She said afterwards that she has benefited greatly by training with Marc Jegou, Liam’s father, in France.

“We’re extremely happy, particularly with the junior competitors. They’ve shown real progress since last year,” Jacob said. Canoe Ireland has focused on giving these paddlers top-level training at venues such as Nottingham and Augsburg, and Jacob said this was paying off.

The funding for high performance for Canoe Ireland in 2016 is low (€65,000) and has to be split with the sprint side of the sport. Canoe slalom competitors will be supported for the main part with coaching and management assistance at venues.

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