Paul O’Donovan holds off brother Gary at Ireland trial

Sanita Puspure also impresses at National Rowing Centre

Paul O’Donovan had 14 seconds to spare over his brother Gary at the Ireland trials in Cork on Saturday. Photograph:   Herman Dingler/Inpho

Paul O’Donovan had 14 seconds to spare over his brother Gary at the Ireland trials in Cork on Saturday. Photograph: Herman Dingler/Inpho

 

The Ireland trial at the National Rowing Centre in Cork gave Rio Olympians the opportunity to demonstrate that they have wintered well, while Daire Lynch and Monika Dukarska showed that their stars are on the rise.

Paul O’Donovan, who has had to focus on his physiotherapy studies after the fun and games of the post-Rio period, has clearly not lost his focus. The 22-year-old was the fastest single sculler on the day. He had 14 seconds to spare over his brother Gary (24) at the end of the six-kilometre single sculls time trial. Just behind the two lightweights was 18-year-old Lynch, the fastest heavyweight, and a real prospect for the future.

Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, world championship finalists last year in the lightweight pair, set an excellent time as they covered the six kilometres better than any other boat.

Sanita Puspure had a margin of 37 seconds over Dukarksa in the women’s single sculls test. Puspure and new coach Seán Casey have formed a good team in training runs, but the rower was happy to have a contest. “It’s fun to be racing again,” she said. She will receive carding of €40,000 this year thanks to her World Cup medal last year.

Dukarska, who lost faith in the Ireland system last year and left it, is back – and hoping to make her mark. She is a dedicated rower, but wants something at the end of it. “We’re doing it to win. We don’t want to be participants,” she said.

Morten Espersen, the outgoing high performance director, was very pleased to see the system he has built in good fettle, with two full-time Irish coaches, Dominic Casey and Seán Casey, in place. “I always had in my mind that I would like to give Ireland back to the Irish. Like the Paul McCartney song!”

Disagreement with the High Performance Committee has seen him announce that he will step down in April, but he is not leaving in anger. “I will say I will not leave Rowing Ireland. I will consult and help people, juniors and seniors. If they [Rowing Ireland] are interested.”

The trial was delayed by heavy morning fog, but conditions on the water were good once rowing began.

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