Sanita Puspure won’t be defending her European title next month

Eight Irish crews made up of 17 rowers selected for European Rowing championships

Two-time European champion Sanita Puspure will not be defending her women’s single sculls title at next month’s European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, focusing instead on training and preparation for competitions later in the season.

For the Cork-based rower, who won her second European title in Poznan, Poland last October, the chief target of the year remains the Tokyo Olympics, beginning in late July. Puspure will however travel with the Irish team to Verese, the championships set for April 9-11th, and from there to a training camp in further preparation for Tokyo.

In all eight Irish crews made up of 17 rowers have been selected for the championships, looking to continue the success of the senior, under-23 and junior crews who between them won 10 medals from their European Championships in September and October last year.

In Poznan, the seven crews produced four medal winners, the other three ranked in the top-eight.


As expected, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will continue in the lightweight men’s double, meaning no place for Gary O’Donovan, who partnered his brother to the silver medal in Rio 2016.

The new O'Donovan-McCarthy combination won gold at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and qualified the boat for the Olympics, also winning silver at the World Rowing Cup III in Rotterdam that year.

McCarthy went on to win bronze in the lightweight men’s single in Poznan. Gary O’Donovan will be competing in the lightweight men’s single, and hasn’t yet given up hope of getting back in the boat with his brother in time for Tokyo. Varese may further decide that matter.

Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne will be competing in the men's double in Varese, qualifying that boat for Tokyo by winning silver at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz. Doyle missed the 2020 European Championships as he took time out during 2020 to return to medicine full time in Daisy Hill hospital to resume his role as a doctor during the pandemic.

Doyle and Byrne also won silver in the men's double at the World Rowing Cup III in 2019. Daire Lynch will be competing in the men's single, after a very successful 2020, winning gold at the Under-23 Championships alongside Ronan Byrne. Lynch, a member of Clonmel Rowing Club, is currently studying and rowing for Yale. The men's single can still qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at the final qualification regatta in Lucerne.

The crew of Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty will be competing in the women's four, Murtagh winning bronze in Poznan and has won the Head of Charles two years in a row. Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska will be competing in the women's pair, with Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey in the lightweight women's double.

"We are very happy with the team selected for the European Rowing Championships next month, said Rowing Ireland's high-performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni. "A lot of hard work and preparation has gone into the camps, and I want to thank the athletes, coaches, clubs and their families for their continued support.

“We are now looking ahead to another successful year and to build off the success of the last number of years. The athletes have all shown their dedication and commitment to our programme, and we look forward to competing and representing Ireland.”

Irish Crews, European Rowing Championships 2021

Ronan Byrne (UCC)
Philip Doyle (Belfast Boat Club)
Daire Lynch (Clonmel)- Reserve

Daire Lynch (Clonmel)

Fiona Murtagh (NUIG)
Eimear Lambe (OCBC)
Aifric Keogh (UCC)
Emily Hegarty (UCC)

Monika Dukarska (Killorglin)
Aileen Crowley (OCBC)

W4/W2 Reserve
Tara Hanlon (UCC RC)
Claire Feerick (Neptune RC)

Gary O'Donovan (Skibbereen)

Paul O'Donovan (UCC)
Fintan McCarthy (Skibbereen)

Margaret Cremen (UCC)
Aoife Casey (UCC)

Lydia Heaphy (UCC)

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics