Irish boats set pace at European Rowing Championships

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy were impressive in their semi-final

Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy on the way to qualifying for the A/B semi-final at the European Rowing Championships. Photo: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy on the way to qualifying for the A/B semi-final at the European Rowing Championships. Photo: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

With the Tokyo Olympics the main focal point for this year’s rowing teams, Irish prospects at the weekend’s European Championships in Varese, Italy suggested the Irish pair of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will be strong contenders come July.

World champions O’Donovan and McCarthy had the fastest time across all the heats in the first day of rowing as they qualified their boat for the lightweight double sculls A/B semi-finals. It was their first race in the boat since the pair won the gold medal at the 2019 World Championships.

Rowing with confidence and strength from the beginning of the race, the pair blew away their opponents on day one to win the heat in 6:54.75 seconds and six seconds ahead of their rival crews.

O’Donovan’s brother Gary, who he partnered to win the silver medal almost five years ago at the Rio Olympic Games, was also among multiple Irish qualifiers for A finals on Sunday. He also came safely through to qualify in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull by finishing a second behind German heat winner Joachim Agne.

O’Donovan was in second place throughout the race and made a sprint at the end in an effort to catch Agne but just missed out on taking first place, finishing with a time of 07:07.23 seconds.

The Women’s Four of Emily Hegarty, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh were also the quickest in qualifying and after finishing eight seconds ahead of the second boat from Russia, will also have a rest day Saturday before a European final on Sunday.

Overall four of the Irish Crews qualified for their A Finals, three crews moved to the A/B Semi-Final and one to the C/D Semi-Final.

Sanita Puspure, who would have been a strong medal contender, is not competing.

Saturday racing times (IST)

09:37/09:44 - LW2x - Aoife Casey & Margaret Cremen - A/B Semi-Final

09:51/09:58 - LM2x - Paul O’Donovan & Fintan McCarthy - A/B Semi-Final

11:35/11:42 - M2x - Phil Doyle & Ronan Byrne - A/B Semi-Final

13:27/13:34 - M1x - Daire Lynch - C/D Semi-Final

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