Two of the top young sportsmen in the country will fight it out at Cork Regatta tomorrow for a single place at the World Championships.
The winner at the National Rowing Centre will have considerable bragging rights as the two are crewmates in an Olympic boat – and brothers.
The one place is in the lightweight single in Rotterdam in August: if Gary O’Donovan (23) beats his younger brother Paul (22), then Gary goes, and Paul could still take on the under-23 lightweight single. If, as expected here, Paul wins he takes the place in the senior lightweight single.
The ribbing between the pair started on the slip at Poznan, Poland, on Sunday after they came off the water. They had placed fourth in the final of the World Cup; as a lightweight double they had moved from 11th in the world last year to (conservatively) fifth to seventh as they head for Rio. Germany, Poland, Austria and Britain have all been beaten.
The O’Donovans face heavy training between now and the Olympics as they prepare to pick off more crews. They muse that world champions France are faster this year. “But that doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten,” says Gary.
“We’re prepared to take that on,” says Paul, in a sombre tone.
The two-day Cork Regatta, the final Grand League event, also acts as a trial for Home International and junior crews. The junior double of Daire Lynch and Ronan Byrne are targeting a World Championship place. Denise Walsh and Siobhán McCrohan are set to clash in the Division One single. Only NUIG have entered a men's senior eight as clubs focus on Henley. Six Irish crews have been asked to pre-qualify today. Among these are single sculler Monika Dukarska and two doubles (Dave Neale and Sean Jacob and Tiernan Oliver and Philip Doyle).
UCD’s eight in the Temple Cup, Commercial’s in the Thames and Trinity’s top coxed four are in the main draw.