Renewal of Trinity and UCD colours rivalry to be hotly contested

Races return to usual course from O’Connell Bridge to St James’s Gate with forecast gusty wind

UCD (right) and Trinity race in the Gannon Cup in 2018. Photograph: Liam Gorman.

UCD (right) and Trinity race in the Gannon Cup in 2018. Photograph: Liam Gorman.

 

Last year’s colours races between UCD and Trinity were extraordinary: the fixture was moved up the river from the city centre to Islandbridge because of heavy snow. Trinity came out on top in the Gannon Cup for senior men and the Corcoran Cup for senior women on an occasion which will always come to the memory in white and black.

This Saturday, the races return to their usual course from O’Connell Bridge to St James’s Gate, with a forecast of gusting winds. Trinity’s men and women defend their titles – but, remarkably, both eights feature just two returnees from last year.

For the Trinity senior men, these are Andrej Liadov and strokeman Mark Quigley. Trinity coach Richard Ruggieri has a young crew, but says he likes the aggression of the group. He acknowledges that UCD look strong, but says it is early in the season, the win is there to play for. “It’s a respectful rivalry, who knows who’ll win?”

UCD have a strong looking hand. David O’Malley, Andrew Goff and Shane O’Connell have all been Ireland internationals, with O’Malley a gold medallist in the World Under-23 Championships in 2018. His partner in the Ireland lightweight pair was Shane Mulvaney, who is returning to fitness after injury. Though he has competed in the last four Gannons (two wins, two losses) he asked not to be considered because the crew being formed was going well.

Mulvaney and O’Malley may not return to the international system this year “due to lack of financial support”, according to Mulvaney.

If UCD are favourites in the Gannon, then Dublin University Ladies Boat Club are stronger tips for the Corcoran Cup for women’s senior eights. In a young crew, the two Trinity returnees are Jane Hogg and Aoife Corcoran in seats four and five. Their favouritism comes by virtue of their fine performance in Erne Head of the River last weekend. They mastered the gusting winds and finished a remarkable 18th of 88 competing crews.

UCD Ladies Boat Club has had a big turnover after turbulent times in recent years and their eight is built from last year’s novice crew. They have the favoured North Station and while Trinity are defending champions, they are inexperienced in this race. Their win last year came in the refixed race at Islandbridge. Only Aoife Corcoran has raced below the weir.

Trinity should win the Sally Moorhead trophy for novice women, while the men’s novice race, for the Dan Quinn shield, is a more open contest.

The four colours races run from 11.30am (Sally Moorhead) to 1pm (Gannon Cup).

The event shares the day with the Lagan Scullers’s Head in Belfast, which has a big entry. The men’s senior singles (11.30am start) has a good line-up, with Queen’s University men Miles Taylor, Sam McKeown, Hugh Moore and Ross Corrigan – who also form a quadruple and two doubles – taking on Aaron Christie of Bann, among others. Queen’s had a number of wins at the BUCS (British University) Fours and Eights Head of the River last weekend.

Next weekend brings the big St Michael’s Head of the River in Limerick, where junior women and men are well represented, along with an Ireland camp at the National Rowing Centre.

Later this month, on March 23rd, the life of Ciarán Gannon, for whom the senior men’s colours race is named, will be celebrated in a special ceremony in India. Gannon died 75 years ago, in March 1944. The UCD Boat Club captain qualified as a doctor and was killed in action in India during the second World War while serving with the Royal Army Medical Corp.

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