Rowing: Cork head of the river postponed as weather plays havoc with programme

Covid-19 now a growing threat to international events

Carrick-on-Shannon rowing club has been flooded due to the continuing poor weather in Co Leitrim.  Photograph: Liam Gorman

Carrick-on-Shannon rowing club has been flooded due to the continuing poor weather in Co Leitrim. Photograph: Liam Gorman

 

Rowing has been fighting off the dual threats of awful weather and the threat of the Covid-19 virus.

However, some very interesting results are emerging from the international trials n held at the National Rowing Centre in Cork and in Italy.

In Belfast, Lagan head of the river on Saturday will be, at best, cut back. Race One has been cancelled and the second race, for bigger boats, may be run early. A decision on this will be made on Friday.

The organisers of Cork head of the river, also set for Saturday, have opted to postpone it until Saturday, March 7th. However, it will now clash with the giant Erne head in Enniskillen – if that goes ahead. A decision on Erne will be made early next week, after the latest weekend storm.

Enniskillen rowers have not been able to get out on the water for a month. Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone and Castleconnell have similar reports. They are also flooded. Athlone has a “clubhouse with a jacuzzi” in the wry words of John O’Meara.

“Is rowing in Ireland viable as a winter sport from now on?” asked another source.

Two decades ago, the head season, which runs through the winter and early spring, was limited and mostly made up of local events. One wonders if a paring back may be made again in the future.

The trial in Italy for the women’s sweep rowing group concluded just as the outbreak in northern Italy was becoming one of the central stories in the Covid-19 saga.

On Thursday, the world governing body, Fisa, announced that the first two World Cup regattas, both in Italy, will go ahead. Ireland have plans to travel to the first World Cup, in Saubadia from April 10th to 12th, and the second is set for Varese from May 1st to 3rd. Fisa cancelled events in South Korea, and said it will monitor the situation in Italy.

Closed early

The Australian Institute of Sport’s European training centre in Varese, at which Irish rowers have trained, closed early this week as authorities sought to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The trial in Italy, with the priority of creating an Ireland four, saw particularly good performances by Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh, Aileen Crowley and Fiona Murtagh.

At the lightweight trial for men at the NRC in the past two days, Paul O’Donovan topped the rankings. The other candidates were tested in a matrix to determine which go on in the battle to join Paul O’Donovan in the lightweight double. It is understood that Fintan McCarthy and Gary O’Donovan remain in the hunt.

The coin toss for stations at the Colours Boat Races in Dublin on March 14th, will be made by Sean Drea at the Civic Offices tomorrow, Saturday. Two brothers – Thomas and Fintan Earley, from Carrick on Shannon – are are set to represent UCD in the Gannon Cup.

Outstanding masters rower Ken McDonald will climb Carrauntoohil on March 28th – carrying a rowing machine. He is raising funds for Share a Dream Foundation.

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