The new shape of Irish rowing was on show at a well-run Neptune head of the river at Blessington Lakes on Saturday. Ireland lead coach Don McLachlan was on hand to see crews from the squad training groups around the country perform.
The men's four formed from pairs training in Limerick (Aidan McEvoy and Finbar Manning) and Dublin (Cormac Folan and Dave Neale) was the third fastest crew overall, ahead of the hosts' senior eight and just nine seconds behind the overall winners, the senior eight from UCD. "We are trying to build up heavyweight rowing; to get the ball rolling," said McLachlan.
The Skibbereen training group has a host of good lightweights, and the O'Donovan brothers, Paul and Gary, won the double sculls by 36 seconds from NUIG. In the single sculls, however, Paul O'Donovan had to give way to the impressive Niall Kenny, who clocked much faster times in both heads (time trials) than O'Donovan could manage in the first head.
Helen Walshe and Eimear Moran, both training under Niall O'Toole in the Dublin squad group, placed one-two in the women's single sculls. "Everyone is moving on; everybody is making progress," said O'Toole.
Portora confirmed the growth of their club by fielding three junior 16 women's eights under the watchful eye of Holly Nixon, who won a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships. The 19-year-old has a shoulder surgery.