Paul and Gary O’Donovan set for stint down under
Olympic silver medallists heading to New Zealand before spell in Australia
The O’Donovan brothers are set for a spell competing and training in New Zealand and Australia. Photograph: Srdjan Stevanovic/Inpho
Paul O’Donovan loves competition. On Saturday the Skibbereen man outpaced the best the country could offer at the Ireland trial, and then confirmed that he will soon be off to spend an extended period training and competing in New Zealand and Australia. His brother, Gary, and the world champion lightweight pair of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan will also be going.
“We’ll go over in January to New Zealand for six weeks or so,” Paul said. “We’ll compete at the New Zealand Championships which are in February.” They then plan to travel on to Australia, spending three months in total down under.
The O’Donovans have not been in either country before, and since they usually do warm weather training in Spain in the early months of the year, the trip to summer weather in the Southern Hemisphere can tick this box.
Gary said that neither he nor Paul had family or work commitments which would prevent them leaving the country for that time, and they were very friendly with New Zealand and Australian rowers.
Paul O’Donovan was the fastest single sculler at the trial, which was run in excellent conditions. Paul was all of 42 seconds ahead of third-placed Gary, with under-23 heavyweight Ronan Byrne slotting into second, exactly halfway between both. Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll both scratched, due to illness and injury.
Monika Dukarska was by far the fastest senior woman, in the absence of Sanita Puspure, who did not take part. The women’s senior pair of Aifric Keogh and Aileen Crowley, who finished eighth at the World Championships, had just three seconds to spare over Emily Hegarty and Tara Hanlon.
Elsewhere legendary coach Tom Sullivan (81) was one of the stars of the show at the UCD Boat Club 100th anniversary celebration. Sullivan traced the development of the club from humble beginnings to a strong force. Four hundred and twenty five people attended the dinner.
Sullivan coached the famous ‘animals’ which won the Ladies Plate at Henley Royal Regatta in 1974, and listed off wins at national regattas and Henley. But he said that in the early days one of the key mentors, James Meenan, had plainitively written that “championships were not for the likes of us.”
Max Murphy, who came back specially from New Zealand, was one of 50 former captains who attended. The oldest ex-rower was Dr Michael Cleary (91), who came from Arizona and brought a family group of 12. He walked unaided up to the stage to receive a special award. Had his active youth as a rower helped. “We were very fit,” he said.
Club treasurer Niall Farrell said the trend was that university rowing was “increasingly professional”, and stressed the need for funding. He said that UCD’s second senior eight at the Irish Championships rowed in a 12-year-old boat.
UCD Centenary Awards
Liz Cooke, Colm Daly, Johnny Devitt, Martin Feeley, Claire Lambe, David Neale, Murrough O’Brien, Jaye Renehan, Brian Sherry, Tom Sullivan.