The Muckross head draws some accomplished young internationals

Commercial are well represented in entry for the National Rowing Centre on Saturday

It may be the final month of the year, but there is a good entry for the two heads of the river this Saturday. The Muckross head will draw some accomplished young internationals to the National Rowing Centre, and there are three senior eights entered, including Commercial, the champions of Ireland.

In the senior quadruple, UCC take on a Shandon/UCC composite. Ronan Byrne of UCC joins Shandon's Alan Prendergast, Daniel Begley and Colm Hennessy in the composite crew. Byrne will race Daire Lynch of Clonmel in the senior single - the two formed the Ireland double which finished eighth at the World Junior Championships.

The women's side of the draw sparks plenty of interest. Ireland performance director Morten Espersen has spoken of the possibility of putting out a women's senior eight in the season ahead, and there are two promising eights entered on Saturday: Lisa Dilleen leads the Cork Boat Club crew, while Denise Walsh is set to stroke a Skibbereen/UCC composite which features the prospective international pair of Aifric Keogh and Aoife Feeley and the power of Emily Hegarty in the five seat.

Dilleen has also entered in the senior single sculls. The junior single features Margaret Cremen of Lee, who set an excellent ergometer score in the Provinces Indoor Championships. The Leinster tests were dominated by the performance of Ben Behr-Heyder of Neptune, who broke six minutes for the 2,000 metres - he had a time of five minutes 59.8 seconds.


Commercial are well represented in the entry for the National Rowing Centre, but they are also sending multiple crews - including a women's club eight and women's junior 18 eight - to the Shannon Head of the River at Carrick-on-Shannon.

Queen's have entered two good senior doubles in Tiernan Oliver and Sam McKeown and Philip Doyle and Chris Beck, and these four are also entered in the men's senior single.

Don McLachlan, the Ireland lead coach for the past Olympics, has joined Sydney University Boat Club as lead coach. The New Zealander will find a club with plenty of Irish connections. Fellow coach Alfie Young is a Limerickman who used to coach with Cork Boat Club, while Debbie Fox was part of the Ireland coaching team for the Beijing Olympics.

The big debate in world rowing right now concerns how to attain gender equality for Tokyo 2020. A likely outcome is that Fisa will opt to drop the men's lightweight four. An interesting contribution, backed by some smaller countries, suggests adding the women's lightweight four to the programme, with the men's (heavyweight) four dropping out. This would certainly suit Ireland. The decision is set to be made at Fisa's extraordinary congress in Tokyo in February.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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