Medals flow for Ireland at World Under-23 Championships

Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley take gold in the lightweight pair in Poznan

 David O’Malley (front) and Shane Mulvaney (back) who won Gold in the lightweight men’s pair. Photograph: FISA

David O’Malley (front) and Shane Mulvaney (back) who won Gold in the lightweight men’s pair. Photograph: FISA

 

Ireland’s superb run at the World Under-23 Championships in Poznan, Poland brought the team gold and silver medals on Saturday - with two more finals to come on Sunday.

Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley looked like men on a mission as they won gold in the lightweight pair.

Last year the two UCD men took bronze. But this time they were determined to mount the top step of the podium.

Italy looked set to spoil the plans: they looked a cut about the rest of the crews as they held strong leads through the main staging posts to 1500 metres. But once Greece and Ireland applied the afterburners, Italy could not live with it.

The Greeks gave Mulvaney and O’Malley a real battle - but Ireland had much the faster finish and won by two-thirds of a length.

The Ireland lightweight quadruple of Miles Taylor, Niall Beggan, Ryan Ballantine and stroke Andrew Goff looked to have little hope of a top-three place until the third quarter of the race. They lay sixth, seemingly out of a race being dominated by Italy.

But then came the sustained sprint which is becoming a characteristic of Ireland crews. One by one the crews before them fell. Only Italy held out and took the gold.

The morning session had brought two more A Final places for Ireland - single sculler Ronan Byrne and the lightweight double of Fintan and Jake McCarthy.

Ronan Byrne is the discovery of the Championships for Ireland. He competed in the World Junior Championships two years ago in a double and took eighth - but as a single sculler he has shown the composure which suggests he could have a future as a senior in this very tough discipline.

His semi-final featured three hard-racing crews: Byrne, Marc Weber of Germany and Ben Davison of the United States. Weber dropped back in the closing stages, knowing third would guarantee a place in the Final. Byrne chased Davison almost to the line - but then he relented and conserved his energy for the hunt for medals.

The lightweight men’s doubles featured a dominant crew in Spain, who led through much of the 2000 metres and won. The McCarthys were always in the picture for a top three place and showed their turn of pace by pushing New Zealand into third in final sprint.

The new lightweight women’s double of Lydia Heaphy and Margaret Cremen will have to settle for battling for places seven to 12 in Sunday’s B Final. They looked very good early on, and even led with 500 metres gone, but in the second quarter Italy and Greece took over in the lead. Ireland would lose their battle with Australia for the third qualification spot. The Netherlands took fourth, and Ireland fifth.

The Ireland women’s pair of Emily Hegarty and Tara Hanlon struggled in their B Final and took sixth, while Ireland lightweight single sculler Hugh Sutton took second in his D Final, 20th overall.

The first day of the Coupe de la Jeunesse, the European Junior Tournament at the National Rowing Centre in Cork, was badly affected by wind. Just two finals were run before the event was abandoned.

There is a full programme on Sunday.

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