St Michael's Rowing Club 'proud' of 'super human' women rowers

By David Raleigh, at St Michael's Rowing Club, Limerick

They rowed every length, they heaved, they hunched over on their seats, and gritted their teeth...they even unleashed the famous Munster roar.

But in the end, it wasn't to be for the hundreds who packed into St Michael's Rowing Club, Limerick, to watch fellow club member and former World Champion Sinead Lynch, go for Olympic gold.

Limerick is a city with a proud rowing heritage. Sinead's husband, and surgeon, Sam Lynch, from Coonagh, is a double Olympian rower, having competed in Atlanta (1996), and in Athens (2004).

Despite finishing sixth in the Women's lightweight double sculls final in Rio, the heroic efforts of Sinead Lynch and her rowing partner Claire Lamb, were celebrated in style by her club mates, family, and friends.

For 10 nail-biting minutes after the starting gun fired, the roof nearly blew off St Michael's clubhouse, as men, women, teenagers, and toddlers, unleashed a Treaty City battle cry.

Even the River Shannon swans that normally shyly gather at the bottom of a slipway beneath St Michael's, started to hiss and babble, as if hypnotised by a cacophony of cries of "Ireland, Ireland" that thundered out of O'Callaghan Strand.

Inside the clubhouse cauldron, Sinead's three children Clodagh, (5), Molly, (3), and Hannah, (2) punched the air, coaching their inspirational mother all the way home.

When the race was over there were "three cheers" and a standing ovation for the Irish athletes who had fulfilled their dream of competing in an Olympic final.

President of St Michael's Rowing Club, Tom Larkin, described Lynch and Lamb as "immense".

"Top six in an Olympic final, that can never be taken away from them. It was nerve wrecking, it was exciting, it was everything. All the emotions were going through our heads," he said.

"Sinead is an inspiration for us. She is still a champion in our eyes," he added.

St Michael's Rowing Club has over 60 junior members, under the age of 16, who all turned out in their club tracksuits to watch the race on a big screen, and be inspired by their hero, Lynch, taking on the best in the world.

"She is a huge role model, the kids look up to her. And for them to see a mother of three, 39 years of age, in an Olympic final...Christ that would inspire anyone, male or female. Sinead is super mum, she is super human," Mr Larkin said.

Sinead's mother in law, Geraldine Lynch, went through all the same excitement when Sam Lynch, her son, and husband of Sinead, previously rowed for Ireland in the Olympics.

"We've two Olympians in the (family) now," Geraldine quipped.

Her husband, Tom, interjected: "There's three Olympians in the family actually. Sinead's sister competed in London 2012."

Four years ago, Catriona Jennings bravely completed her last long distance marathon run at the London Games, despite suffering from plantar fasciitis and a stress fracture.

Geraldine continued: "Sinead is an amazing woman. We are so proud. She is a gentle, but tough lady, and she will return from this with total happiness, and I'm sure she will feel a total sense of a dream fulfilled."

"It's a very emotional day for all of us. I can honestly say I was very proud Sinead was in that boat. She was up against the toughest in the world."

Ned Murphy, (16), a junior at St Michael's, from Clonlara, said: "All the rowers are definitely an inspiration. Seeing Sinead race today will definitely bring more young lads into the club."

"Being here today to watch the race was a pretty amazing experience. I don't think I've been as excited at a sports event. It was an amazing experience."

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