McKeon bids to win place on Irish pararowing team

Glasnevin woman is now contender despite suffering serious brain injury in Thai crash

A jeep changed her life. Catherine McKeon's motorbike came out the wrong end a crash in Thailand and she was left with a serious brain injury and "half a right hand". There followed a month in a Thai hospital and then two years in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

If the prognosis was not good, the spirit of the young woman was strong. Now 24, and with no background in rowing, the Glasnevin woman is taking giant steps in her efforts to win a place on the Ireland pararowing team.

Irish record

She rewrote the Irish record for a pararower at the Irish indoor championships in January and was recently interviewed by

Morning Ireland


as she trained at the National Rowing Centre. She articulately made a case for more funding for the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

"Sport had a huge influence on my recovery," she told The Irish Times. "Before the accident I wouldn't have gone to a gym; I wouldn't have done that much. But after it I took up rowing and Muay Thai and I started going to a gym. And I think that really helped my recovery."

Ireland has one oarsman, Karol Doherty, who could make the Paralympics this year. He will hope to compete at the qualification regatta in Italy in April. McKeon will also travel to Italy to be classified, but her aim is to be part of a four which Martin Kilbane, who heads up Ireland's paralympic rowing programme, hopes to build.

Interesting entry

Three of the top four heavyweight scullers at the Irish indoor championships – Sam McKeown, Tiernan Oliver and

Philip Doyle

– have entered the Lagan Scullers head of the river on Saturday in Belfast. Eimear Lambe and Aileen Crowley of UCD are an interesting entry in the women’s double.

The event is the only one left standing for two weeks: the junior trials, set for Saturday at Lough Rynn and the National Rowing Centre have been called off.

The St Michael’s Head of the River, scheduled for February 20th, has been cancelled and rescheduled for March 12th, because of the flood on the Shannon. The volume of water is 230 cm per second; the norm is 10 cm per second.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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