For the last three years Lisa Dilleen, one of Ireland best young rowers, has competed at the World Under-23 Championships. Her record of ninth, 10th and eighth has frustrated her.
This year, in Linz in Austria, the 22-year-old is intent on setting that right – and yesterday she took a big step towards a happy ending when she stroked the Ireland four which charged into tomorrow's Afinal.
There were two places available in yesterday's repechage and by halfway it was likely that leaders Poland and Ireland would get them. But Dilleen was never going to settle for second. Poland put up the battle, but Ireland won it, and guaranteed themselves a better lane draw tomorrow.
"They were fantastic: they just sat on them (Poland) from the start. It's just perfect," said Ireland team manager Morten Espersen.
The man who has overseen many outstanding rowers in Denmark was full of admiration for Dilleen and he said that Aifric Keogh, Ailish Sheehan and Emily Tormey were "gelling better and better with her".
The super-fast Australians, who beat Ireland in the heat on Wednesday, will be favourites tomorrow. Russia, who also won their heat will also be contenders as will New Zealand and the Netherlands, who qualified from the other repechage yesterday.
Espersen is not making predictions, but he is hopeful Dilleen’s passion brings a reward. “Lisa said she would really like to have a medal. It’s her fourth attempt. She is a very gifted athlete as a stroke; hopefully the others will follow her.”
Ireland had two other good results yesterday, with lightweight sculler Denise Walsh and the men's pair both qualifying directly from their heats.
The plan for Walsh was to go out hard early and take control of a first-two place, and that's what she did. Eveline Peleman of Belgium took over in first and won well, but Walsh guarded her second place from attack by Helena Pavkovic of Croatia.
Walsh’s finish, when she was still moving fast with 250 metres to go, impressed Espersen. “I think there is more to come,” he said.
The men's pair of Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan and Seán O'Connor saw Australia disapppear from their reach early on, but kept their wits and took the second place which guaranteed them direct qualification for the semi-finals as they had five seconds to spare over main rivals Russia. In their heat of the men's lightweight double sculls, Shane O'Driscoll and Gary O'Donovan needed to finish in the top two, but after a disappointing first quarter they could only take third and will go to a repechage. France made a terrific start and stayed in the lead to the finish. Italy followed them, but despite their efforts O'Driscoll and O'Donovan could not make the top two.
Ireland's four of Richie Bennett Matthew Wray, Jonathan Mitchell and Rob O'Callaghan found the going difficult in their repechage, finishing fifth and last. They will compete in the B final.
Details in SPORTS ROUND-UP