‘O’Donovan effect’ sees numbers on the water rocket

Head of Shannon and Muckross Head of the River draw record entries

Record entries have become the norm for rowing events in Ireland. On Saturday, the Head of the Shannon at Carrick on Shannon is the biggest it has ever been. In Cork, the sheer size of Muckross Head of the River at the National Rowing Centre, also on Saturday, is astounding. There are 497 crews entered, which represents over 1,500 individual entries. One telling statistic: there are 20 junior 15 women's coxed quadruples. That's 100 competitors in this single event.

“It’s the O’Donovan effect,” says Tim O’Brien, the event secretary. “And Sanita (Puspure), too.” All three are world champions.

O’Brien has spoken to John Eagleton of Met Éireann, who confirmed that the outlook looks good. There will be another review on Friday.

The Muckross adult entry is impressive there are 11 men’s eights in intermediate, club and masters categories for the three kilometre rolling time trial.


Ireland senior international Ronan Byrne will compete in the single sculls and will stroke a UCC quadruple. They take on Cork and a strong Shandon crew of Alex Byrne – who set a junior record of six minutes five seconds for 2,000 metres at the Provinces Indoor Championships last weekend – Jack Dorney, Stephen O'Sullivan and Sam O'Neill.

Eliza O’Reilly and Gill McGirr, who represented Ireland at the World Junior Championships, make up half the Fermoy women’s senior quadruple who take on Cork. In the intermediate double, the talented Killorglin crew of Anna Tyther and Rhiannon O’Donoghue face crews from Castleconnell and Cork.

Margaret Cremen, who rowed for Ireland in the World Under-23 Championships, represents UCC, where she has recently been awarded a Quercus scholarship.

Overcast and cool

Mark Butler of Carrick-on-Shannon confirms that their entry of 170 boats is a record – and the forecast is for overcast and cool conditions with light winds. "We're delighted with the entry and even more delighted that the weather forecast is looking good."

Molly Curry, one of the outstanding junior women in the Ireland trials process, teams up with Rachel Bradley in a Coleraine Grammar School junior 18A double, while Neptune's Colum and Ronan Brennan form the same crew on the men's side. There is a big masters entry, including mixed boats.

Whatever the weather, the day will be green. The organisers have promised to use only compostable cutlery, cup and plates, and have asked those coming along not to bring single-use plastic bottles.

The All In A Row fun event will take place on the Liffey this Saturday. It has been a big success in recent years, raising money for charities and showing the potential of the river to draw people together. Rowers and canoeists have all been involved, with some garish costumes adding to the spectacle. This year, funds will go to the RNLI and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The colourful flotilla will negotiate the trip from St Patrick’s Rowing Club at the Tom Clarke (formerly East Link) Bridge to the Ha’penny Bridge.

And so, the mystery of the Dublin Dolphin is solved. He just arrived a bit early for the show.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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