Cracking senior eights clash in store at University Championships

UCD bid to defend title and avenge Gannon Cup defeat in the snow to Trinity

 Sanita Puspure: will compete in the single sculls at the Memorial Paolo d’Aloja in Piediluco in Italy. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sanita Puspure: will compete in the single sculls at the Memorial Paolo d’Aloja in Piediluco in Italy. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Those seeking a guide to how Irish rowing will develop both internationally and at home this season should learn a lot over next three days.

Some of the best crews in the country face off in the University Championships of Ireland today (Friday) at the National Rowing Centre, while on Saturday Ireland crews get a taste of international action in Italy.

On Saturday and Sunday, the NRC was to be the scene of Skibbereen Regatta, an annual highlight. However, the event-wrecking weather, which has been the story of the year so far, refused to yield centre stage.

Some 770 crews had been entered; many rowers booked accommodation and will lose deposits. But as the event approached, the weather forecast was for powerful south easterly winds for much of Saturday and on Sunday. The organisers opted not to run a very limited regatta that might start in good weather and then have to be abandoned.

Skibbereen promised a clash of three men’s senior eights; today’s University Championships boasts five. UCD and Trinity served up a cracking race in the snow in the Gannon Cup, with Richard Ruggieri’s unfancied crew coming in ahead of the men in blue and saffron.

That rivalry will be renewed, while Queen’s University, UCC and NUIG will fancy their chances. UCD can call on U-23 internationals David O’Malley, Shane Mulvaney and Andrew Goff – perhaps for the last time this season. This is their chance to defend their title as the best university eight in the country.

Different boats

The two crews in the outside lanes of the four-boat women’s eight final, Trinity and NUIG, should shoot in out for honours. Last year Trinity won the overall prize at the regatta, which is set to move to Lough Rinn next year.

Three Ireland women’s crews compete on Saturday at the Memorial Paolo d’Aloja in Piediluco in Italy.

Aifric Keogh and Aileen Crowley took eighth place in the pair at the World Championships last year, but they will start the 2018 season in different boats. Crowley teams up with Monika Dukarska in a double, while Keogh and promising 19-year-old Emily Hegarty form a pair.

Sanita Puspure, who has been struggling with injury – though very actively staying fit – is entered in a single scull.

The event continues with a new programme on Sunday. Ireland’s high performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni, has opted to keep his cards close to his chest and not name crews for Sunday until after the Saturday races. There will be keen interest in whether he enters Dukarska and Puspure as a double.

The Ireland rowers will stay on in Italy for a training camp.

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