Hopes high for Ireland’s women’s double at the World Junior Championships

USA-bound Hilary Shinnick and Bridget Jacques have prepared well for event in Lithuania

Two Ireland teams this week pick up the baton handed over by the Ireland U-23 team. The Ireland women's eight race tonight in Lucerne in Switzerland in the first race of the Coupe de la Jeunesse, a European junior tournament. On Wednesday the competition steps up a level as the Ireland team begin their challenge in the World Junior Championships in Trakai in Lithuania. They will hope to match the Under-23 team in reaching the medal podium.

The Coupe team have caught the lucky break of racing at the Mecca of rowing, the Rotsee in Lucerne. The women’s eight, formed only in recent weeks, will be first off this evening, but Ireland’s best hopes of medals may lie in the men’s sculling events.

Ireland will send just four crews – a women and men's double and quadruple – to the World Junior Championships, as Bernadette Walsh drops out of the single to join the quadruple, in place of the injured Leonie Hamel. The all-Shandon men's double of Andy Harrington and Jack Casey showed devastating form at the Irish Championships and will hope to make their mark. But it is the women's double which is the big hope of a medal.

Two friends
Hilary Shinnick and Bridget Jacques will be rowing with Notre Dame and Princeton, respectively, next season (Jacques has won an academic scholarship to Princeton), and for weeks the two friends have been living in Cork City and training at the National Rowing Centre with the aim of excelling a this World Championships. This is a crew worth watching.

The benefits of a long lead in to a major event were clearly evident at the World Under-23 Championships. Paul O’Donovan medalled after prioritising this event (he did not compete at the Irish championships) while the talented women’s four, formed through no fault of their own late in the day, encountered problems and finished fourth.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in rowing