Rising tide for Irish rowing lifts all seven crews at Poznan
Irish rowers chasing medals at World Under-23 Championships in Poland
The lightweight quadruple sculls team of Andrew Goff, Niall Beggan, Miles Taylor and Ryan Ballantine came through in their repechage
The World Under-23 Championships in Poznan, Poland is proving to be a useful tool in tracking the upward trajectory of Irish rowing. Just a few years ago, stand-out brilliance alternated with struggles to make the grade. By Thursday, all seven crews of the 2018 group had progressed. At least three of those will be very disappointed with anything less than a medal come Saturday and Sunday.
The lightweight men’s double of Jake and Fintan McCarthy have a special reason to seek glory. Last year this regatta presented the Skibbereen twins with bitter disappointment. Fintan broke a bone in his hand in the run-up to the regatta, yet they still came within a second of making the A Final. This year they raced the O’Donovan brothers at Cork Regatta and almost caught them. So there was no room for what-might-have-beens in Poznan. One crew would qualify for the semi-finals from the heat. Italy raced Ireland early on, but the McCarthys sped away from them in the final quarter and won well.
Andrew Goff and Niall Beggan took bronze in the lightweight quadruple last year. The Waterford man and the Dubliner are joined by Miles Taylor of Queen’s and Enniskillen man Ryan Ballantine in this year’s iteration. A blip in the heat was forgotten as they won their repechage by a clear length from Spain to take their place in Saturday’s final, alongside the outstanding lightweight pair of Shane Mulvaney and Dave O’Malley, who won their heat on Wednesday.
The Ireland senior pair of Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll were beaten by Mulvaney and O’Malley at Cork Regatta, but have gone on to great things since. They have been added to the Ireland team for the European Championships next week (August 2nd to 5th).
In Poznan there was one interesting straw in the wind. In the lightweight quad race, Britain finished fourth and go to B Final. Rowing is an all-island sport. A superb talent such as Hannah Scott from Derry represents Britain in Poznan. The excellence of the Ireland system, at least in some disciplines, gives adult rowers from Ulster a concrete reason to row in the green.
And Ireland debutants have been doing well. Lydia Heaphy (20) teamed up with the more experienced Margaret Cremen (19) to take a place in the semi-finals of the lightweight double through a solid second place in their heat. Hugh Sutton (19) matched that in his repechage and moved into the quarter-finals.
The bubbling up of young talent will be a major part of another big show at the National Rowing Centre from Friday to Sunday. The Coupe de la Jeunesse has drawn 500 junior rowers from 14 countries to the Cork venue.
There are two full sets of finals. Last year, with just four boats, Ireland took five gold medals. Three of those medallists – Jack Keating, Gill McGirr and Eliza O’Reilly – will compete in the World Junior Championships this year, while 2016 medallists Margaret Cremen, Tara Hanlon and Hannah Scott are in Poznan at the World Under-23 Championships.
Each of the steps on the international ladder looks promising.
Racing in the 2018 Coupe begins with the women’s eights finals on Friday.