Rowing: Irish harbour medal hopes in European Championships

Lightweight duo Paul and Gary O’Donovan included in team bound for Brandenburg

Ireland have an excellent chance of taking a medal or medals at the European Championships in Brandenburg in Germany this weekend.

Paul and Gary O'Donovan, in the men's lightweight double, come into the regatta on the back of a superb silver at the first World Cup at Varese in Italy.

The lightweight women's double of Sinéad Jennings and Claire Lambe will be out to make a point after their disappointing start to the season. They have a relatively good draw in today's heat.

Come Sunday, the most important result could be that of Sanita Puspure. The two lightweight doubles are already Rio-bound, but the Ireland single sculler must take a top three-place at the Olympic qualifier, which begins on May 22nd, to secure her place.

Puspure's bronze medal in Varese was promising, but the silver medal was taken by Ekaterina Karsten, set to be a rival in the qualifier. Puspure knows this is her chance to send out a message to the 43-year-old legend (six Olympic Games; two golds) that the order has changed. The two have been seeded, so will not clash in the heats. Puspure has the preferable heat draw and should qualify for the semi-final with ease.

World champions

The Ireland lightweight pair of Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll have a tough heat draw, with former Ireland junior

Joel Cassells

and

Sam Scrimgeour

, reigning world champions, likely winners for Britain.

Holly Nixon

, who took a World Championship silver for Ireland as a junior, is part of the Britain women’s quadruple.

Nixon's club, Portora, provide some of the best crews at what is a thin entry at Queen's Regatta at Castlewellan on Saturday. The event suffers from being sited at a time when university crews in the Republic are exam-tied. Portora take on the host club in the senior men's four with a crew which includes Barney Rix and Lloyd Seaman.

Queen's had some excellent results at the BUCS (British university) regatta. Tiernan Oliver and Philip Doyle won the men's championship double sculls, Doyle took silver in the championship single sculls and the Queen's lightweight four took bronze.

Doyle and Oliver were entered for the huge international regatta at Ghent in Belgium this weekend, but Doyle has had to pull out, ill. Sam McKeown has also withdrawn. Oliver is set to compete in the single sculls.

Cork Boat Club, Commercial and Carlow will send big contingents to Ghent. Skibbereen's Emily Hegarty could be one to watch in the junior 18 single, and in combination with Aoife Casey in the junior double. Commercial's senior men's eight take on strong British and European crews, and the Dublin club have also entered junior women's and men's eights. Éimear Lambe, younger sister of Claire, competes for UCD.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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

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