Ireland heading for final World Cup Regatta in Lucerne this weekend

Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan to meet in heat Polish crew who beat them in Belgrade

 In Ireland the top club crews will be competing at the Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre. Photograph: Getty Images

In Ireland the top club crews will be competing at the Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ireland sweeps into the final World Cup Regatta in Lucerne this weekend hungry for action – and medals. Sanita Puspure (silver) and Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan (bronze) both had podium finishes in the first World Cup in Belgrade. The Ireland team missed the middle World Cup for financial reasons, and will be out to make up for it.

In Friday’s heat, the O’Donovans meet the crew which beat them in Belgrade. Poland matched the Ireland moves that day and took gold. Two crews will go directly to the semi-final out of a tough heat, which also features Austria and the Czech Republic.

Back in Ireland, the top club crews will be competing at the Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre. “I love training there in the sun,” Puspure said. She will have plenty of hot competition in Lucerne. Twenty-two single scullers will compete. Puspure’s heat features America’s number one, Kara Kohler, but only one will qualify directly for the semi-finals.

For Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, these are important days. The world champions in the lightweight pair are determined to prove they can make it as heavyweights. The result at Cork Regatta, where they were beaten by under-23 lightweights Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley, was a blow. In Lucerne they are accompanied by big heavyweights Andy Harrington and Patrick Boomer. A B Final finish for either crew would be good.

The Ireland team is completed by the double of Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley, a new women’s pair (Tara Hanlon and Aifric Keogh) and single sculler Philip Doyle, making his debut at this level on Friday – and racing against Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale.

Key players

Mulvaney and O’Malley could be key players at the Irish Championships, a monster regatta which features non-Championship events. The two UCD men are set to start their search for titles on Friday in an attractive senior fours final, where they team up with Andrew Goff and Shane O’Connell. This four won at Cork Regatta. But this is a six-boat final, and Cork Boat Club, Commercial (A and B), NUIG and Shandon all have strong crews.

The senior pairs final on Saturday also looks made for Mulvaney and O’Malley – if they compete. They would be a huge asset for UCD in the biggest race of the event, the men’s senior eights final, on Sunday. Picked for the Ireland team for the World Under-23 Championships, they can compete in two events here.

Commercial are going for a three-in-a-row in senior eights. Trinity, under American coach Rich Ruggieri, have been building and look the form crew. Cork had an impressive tilt at Henley. NUIG have combined with Queen’s to co-opt Henley contestant Tiernan Oliver. UCD have named Max Murphy in their crew, and if O’Malley and Mulvaney also row they could win.

Thriller

Skibbereen and NUIG may shoot it out in the women’s eight, while the women’s four could be a thriller as Cork, Commercial and Trinity come on board.

The regatta has become a youth festival of rowing. This year that mood may sweep on through the month. The NRC hosts the Home International regatta on July 21st and the Coupe de la Jeunesse, a European junior tournament, the following weekend.

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