Two Irish crews in action on first day of Henley regatta

Tough draw for Sadhbh O’Connor and Natalie Long against world beating team

Two Irish crews go into action on the first day of action at Henley Royal Regatta, on Wednesday. Commercial take on Nottingham Rowing Club in the Thames Cup for club eights (4pm), and Enniskillen’s junior women’s quad race against Notts County in the Diamond Jubilee at 6.50pm.

Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll have been seeded (“selected” in Henley terms) in the Silver Goblets, the open event for men’s pairs.

Enniskillen have also been selected in the Fawley for boys’ quadruples, though they had to qualify. One Irish crew has a particularly tough draw: Sadhbh O’Connor and Natalie Long, who qualified, face the might of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast in the Hambleden Pairs, an open event. The New Zealand pair, who have recorded the world’s best time in the pairs, come into the regatta on the back of winning gold at the World Cup in Poznan.

The decision by Trinity College to steer clear of Henley this year, and by University College Dublin’s men’s boat club to enter only the Visitors’, leaves the Temple for student eights free of Irish crews. Truth be told, the big American and British college crews – big in both the sense of physically impressive and with a huge pick – were, year-on-year, making a challenge by individual colleges from Ireland quixotic.

The UCD four in the Visitors looks a better bet. David O’Malley, Shane Mulvaney, Andrew Goff and Shane O’Connell are a sweet combination. O’Malley and Mulvaney are the world lightweight pairs champions, while the four are the national champions. The won the Championships Four at London Metropolitan regatta this year.

The cancellation of Cork Regatta has shifted the selection process for the Home International Regatta to the Irish Championships from July 12th to 14th, just two weeks before the Homes. Some athletes from the High Performance system have been pre-selected.

Wednesday is the final day for entries for the Irish Championships. Rowers who have competed in only one Irish event but entered for Cork Regatta will be deemed to have satisfied the requirement of having rowed in two Irish regattas.

Henley Royal Regatta, July 3rd-7th (Selection of entries, Irish interest)

Thames (Men's Eight, Club): Commercial

Visitors (Men's Four, Club and University): UCD

Fawley (Men's Quadruple, Junior): Enniskillen Royal Boat Club

Diamond Jubilee Cup (Women's Quadruple, Junior): Enniskillen Royal Boat Club

Silver Goblets (Men's Pairs, Open): Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll (Skibbereen)

Hambleden Pairs (Women's Pairs, Open): Sadhbh O'Connor and Natalie Long (NUIG and Skibbereen)

Double Sculls (Men's Double, Open): Nathan Hull and OJ Dix (Queen's, Belfast and Leander)

Princess Royal (Women's Single, Open): Orla Hayes (Skibbereen)