Irish crews intent on prolonging successful run

Juniors chase more glory at Coupe de la Jeunesse and World Junior Championships

Last weekend extended the unbroken sequence of successes for Ireland crews with two medals claimed at the World U-23 Championships. Photograph: Getty Images

Two medals at the World U-23 Championships last weekend extended the unbroken sequence of successes for Ireland crews at big international regattas.

The next two weekends bring more challenges and more opportunities for success.

Four Ireland crews will compete on Saturday and Sunday (July 29th and 30th) in Hazewinkel in Belgium in the Coupe de la Jeunesse, a European junior tournament. The Ireland men's four have the advantage of experience in the event, as Enniskillen's Aaron Johnston and Ross Corrigan return from last year's crew.

Barry O'Flynn of the men's quadruple also competed in this boat last year, and the Cork Boat Club man will have a crewmate in Matt Dundon who was the stroke man of the Clonmel quadruple which won plenty of admirers for their chutzpah at Henley Royal Regatta. The Ireland quad also competed at the European Junior Regatta, taking 10th.


Both men’s crews would hope to be amongst the medals, though fields of 12 and 11 countries respectively make for tough competition.

Georgia O'Brien in the women's single and the women's pair of Ellie O'Reilly and Gill McGirr are less experienced competitors. The pair finished ninth at the European Juniors and, competing for Fermoy, were impressive winners at the Irish Championships.

The Coupe will come to Ireland in 2018, as will the Home International Regatta. Last week's staging of the Homes in Strathclyde in Scotland saw six wins for Ireland crews, though England and Scotland shared the overall honours.

Taking silver

The World Junior Championships start on Wednesday in Trakai, Lithuania. Ireland will be represented by the women's double of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen, who come into the regatta having taken silver at the European Junior Championships.

With 745 competitors from 58 countries, this is a monster regatta, and Casey and Cremen’s double is part of an entry of 28 crews.

Hannah Scott, the Irish champion, would have been an obvious choice in the women's single. The Bann woman has chosen to prioritise a break before taking up her studies at Princeton. She might also have been chosen for the Worlds last year and says it was "a bit unfair" that she did not get that chance.

Ireland’s Tony O’Connor is now based in New Zealand and the double Olympian and former world champion will coach the New Zealand men’s four and pair in Trakai. The country is perhaps the most successful rowing nation at the moment. It puts great stock in training camps and juniors from far-flung areas of the island spend long spells together in one place.

James Mangan, who has coached in the US and Ireland, believes the motivational aspect of camps can be underestimated. He is working on bringing along young heavyweight male rowers. He will run two camps August 5th and 12th in Blessington and Castleconnell. He and a team of coaches have already had two screenings and have been encouraged by the buy-in.

Masters rowers feature on the programme of Sligo Regatta on Saturday. Old rivals from Neptune and Commercial are amongst the crewmates in an eight which will take on the Athlone senior eight.

The most dramatic rowing story of the week was the rescue of Brian Conville and Joseph Gagnon from the sea off Cork. The two young men left Canada on June 13th hoping to row to Europe (initially the aim was to row to France). Their emergency beacon (epirb) was activated and they were rescued by the Irish Coast Guard.


Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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