O’Donovan brothers scoop up awards in Skibbereen

Rowers are not as confident of being in top form for the World Cup in Belgrade in May

Busy does not get close to describing the O’Donovan brothers. They raced six times at the two-day Skibbereen Regatta at the National Rowing Centre, qualified for three finals and won all of them: Paul took first and Gary second in the single sculls. Their last race before they head off to the World Cup series and European Championships almost got away from them, however.

Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan led for much of the double sculls final, and it took all of the resolve of Paul and Gary to head them and win narrowly. Asked whether he thought they could have won, Mark O’Donovan said “absolutely”.

“We can’t let them go around thinking they’re stars,” he said, teasing his friends. The four men had teamed up on Saturday to win the quadruples title at the huge, well-run event.

Paul and Gary dealt splendidly with the waves of attention which broke over them, as they have done since their silver in Rio in the lightweight double in August. But with the first World Cup in Belgrade three and a half weeks away Paul gave a realistic assessment of where they stand.


“We might not be as fast this May as we were last year. We had a lot on and it was hit and miss before Christmas, and then I had my [physiotherapy] exams. But it is a long season.”

World Championships

The international season finishes much later this year than usual, with the World Championships in Florida in late September.

Claire Lambe, who won the women's Boat Race with Cambridge last week in London flew in to form a winning double with Sanita Puspure, who was also the top women's single sculler. "This is my first time back in Cork since Rio. All my friends are here," Lambe said.

She said she was conscious she had missed Ireland trials because of the Boat Race and the preparation for it. She will stay in Cambridge into August and complete her studies. She did not think it would be fair to expect to come back and jump into a boat for the World Championships in September. “We will see what happens.”

The regatta was a good showcase for young talent flowing into rowing just now. It finished well with a close but convincing win for UCD’s senior men’s eight over Irish champions Commercial, while Skibbereen and UCC teamed up to win the women’s eight convincingly.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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