Rowing: 443 crews from 41 clubs will attend Lough Rynn regatta

Clash of junior eights of Enniskillen and Shandon might be the race to watch

The president of Rowing Ireland, Eamonn Colclough, stands on the bank of Lough Rinn in the lashing rain, and predicts that Saturday's big Lough Rynn regatta (the name is taken from the nearby hotel) will be a good one.

The weather forecast is promising, in contrast to last year when a violent squall tore a hole in the programme and left some rowers out on the course in dreadful conditions.

That day showed up the shortage of experienced personnel. This time out the chief umpire is Skibbereen stalwart TJ Ryan, and the Connacht branch is calling on 110 volunteers from a wider range of clubs. There will be seven umpires' launches, and safety back-up from Leitrim Sub Aqua Club and Leitrim Civil Defence.

The attractive, developing course can accommodate big numbers, and 443 crews from 41 clubs will compete in 123 races. The regatta will be run on a Grand League format, and some junior pairs will be competing as part of the Ireland trialling process.


Irish senior champions Commercial head up the eights' entry, but the clash of the junior eights of Enniskillen and Shandon might be the one to watch. Fionán Crowley, who recently broke six minutes on the ergometer, competes for Castleconnell. The senior women's four from Cork – Lisa Dilleen, Linda Murphy, Tara Hanlon and Amy Mason – take on Commercial crews in another highlight.

Sizeable contingent

It is exam season, and university rowers generally miss out. However, Queen's is sending a sizeable contingent to the enormous three-day BUCS (British university) regatta at Nottingham, and trained on Lough Rinn recently. At the top end in Nottingham, Sam McKeown and Philip Doyle go in the Championship singles, and the Belfast college has women's and men's Championship doubles. Miles Taylor is set to compete in the lightweight single.

Rowing Ireland has just appointed a new chief executive in Michelle Carpenter. Colclough says she will spend "most of her time" at the National Rowing Centre (NRC) in Cork, but Rowing Ireland is "investigating having a hub in Abbotstown" in Dublin.

The Ireland rowers who trained in Varese, Italy, are returning to cool and overcast conditions at the NRC. Gary and Paul O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll and Mark O'Donovan have trained on ergometers in the centre when the water has not been good.

International season

The plan for the first part of the international season, as outlined by high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni, is to compete in just two World Cup regattas, the first, in Belgrade, and third (Lucerne), missing the middle World Cup in Austria.

However, Gary O'Donovan told The Irish Times on Thursday: "Myself and Paul would like to go to all three World Cups."

He said they were training “48 weeks of the year”, and wanted to take every chance of competing at the top level in the lightweight double.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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