Sam McKeown’s absence casts a shadow on Ireland Assessment

Monika Dukarska an impressive winner of women’s single at National Rowing Centre

 

The absence of top heavyweight Sam McKeown, who has reportedly gone to the British system, cast a shadow on an otherwise bright day at the Ireland Assessment at the National Rowing Centre.

In his absence, his Queen’s University clubmate Philip Doyle won the single sculls. The 25-year-old has a decision of his own to make, as he is an ambitious rower but has just passed his final exams in medicine. “I have two passions; it is difficult to balance them,” he said, adding that he will be available to Ireland selectors until August.

Monika Dukarska was an impressive winner of the women’s single. Her closest rivals Sanita Puspure (injured) and Denise Walsh (ill) were not racing, but the Killorglin woman is in good form.

The most emphatic winners of the day were the UCD lightweight pair of David O’Malley and Shane Mulvaney, who flew down the course in tricky crosswind conditions. Last year this crew won a bronze medal at the World Under-23 Championships and they are hoping to do better this year. “We want to throw the kitchen sink at it,” O’Malley said.

The strong group of lightweight scullers was led in by another UCD man, Andrew Goff, while UCC’s Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh were convincing winners of the women’s pair. Aileen Crowley, who was Keogh’s partner last year at the World Championships, is injured.

The junior races had some excellent contests. Jack Dorney of Shandon came home fastest of the men’s single scullers. He had taken a lead by 1500 metres and built on it; the late push by Jack Keating of Carlow shot him out of the chasing pack and secured him second place.

Aoibhinn Keating of Skibbereen won the women’s single in a much closer race.

The women’s pair produced the expected win for he Fermoy duo of Gill McGirr and Eliza O’Reilly, while Odhran Donaghy and Nathan Timoney of Enniskillen won the Junior men’s pairs final. Shandon’s Sam O’Neill and William Ronayne kept them honest till the end.

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