The big men strike back at Ireland rowing trial

Fionnan Crowley and Andy Harrington beat Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll

The big men struck back at the Ireland trial on Saturday at the National Rowing Centre. In the first of two scheduled sessions, Fionnan Crowley of Castleconnell and Andy Harrington of Shandon took on and beat the Skibbereen pair of Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll, the former world lightweight champions.

Ireland coach Dave McKenzie McGowan admitted that selection decisions lay in wait, but welcomed the fact that O’Driscoll and O’Donovan are now training full-time with the heavyweight group at the NRC.

Philip Doyle, a doctor, came into the trial for the first time and re-formed the heavyweight double with Ronan Byrne. This crew finished ninth in the world last year - on Saturday they beat the novel lightweight double of Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.

The lightweight side has been weakened by the absence of both Gary O'Donovan and Denise Walsh. O'Donovan has been training in New Zealand and has, in any case, a wrist injury, while Walsh suffered a back spasm on Friday.

The pair of Monika Dukarska and Aifric Keogh continue to impress on each outing, while the exciting prospect of a new four was trailed when Emily Hegarty and Aileen Crowley teamed up with Eimear Lambe and Claire Feerick.

The second session of the day, late in the very still afternoon, saw the first outing of a men’s four, with Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan topping and tailing the pair of Andy Harrington and Fionnan Crowley. They took second in their race behind the all-conquering men’s double of Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle.

Molly Curry and Rhiannon O’Donoghue, the junior double, did well to test Monika Dukarska and Aifric Keogh, the senior pair. Lightweight single sculler Fintan McCarthy, who had a five-second advantage, actually crossed he line first.

Commercial’s senior men’s eight finished 20th in the provisional rankings in the Head of the River race in London. Cork Boat Club took 34th.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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

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