Move over the O’Donovan Brothers, Skibbereen has new rowing stars — and they’re a pair of jokers also.
Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan were the stars of the day, winning gold on a day when Ireland took three medals at the European Championships. All the medallists come from the now-famous Skibbereen Rowing Club in West Cork.
O’Driscoll and O’Donovan led from 600m into the race and never let up in what was a comfortable win in the lightweight pairs. But as is now becoming customary with the Skibbereen lads, it was their interview with RTÉ after winning the race that has the nation talking.
“I told you we’d beat the Brits,” O’Donovan said after the win
“Dominic Casey wanted to make us hungry so he kept us away from the sport for a day or two. He only made us train once a week to make us hungry and by God we’d a hunger. In the warm-up we had a practice start and Mark wasn’t too happy with my aggression and he said, ‘By God, you better up that aggression off the start’ and I made sure all I was concentrating on was the first six strokes off the start and get out nice and hard. I think that set us up nicely,” O’Driscoll said.
O’Driscoll even referenced a “drop of whiskey they gave us before the race” which he threw up after crossing the finishing line. However, there was more to come from the Irish team, and clubmate Denise Walsh won a superb silver in the women’s lightweight single sculls. After lying fourth at the halfway mark, she surged back into contention in the latter stages to finish behind Emma Fredh of Sweden.
The O’Donovan brothers also made it onto the podium but failed in their bid to defend their title, finishing second to France.
It was a gutsy performance from the pair who were well off the pace after 500m.
However, after a strong last 1,000, they edged the Italians and the Poles to take the third medal for the Irish team.
“The field is so damn tight. To come away with a silver medal is pretty damn good,” said Gary O’Donovan.
His brother Paul added: “The world championships are in October and this time last year we were four-and-a-half seconds behind the French.”
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