Wind with West Cork’s rowing O'Donovan brothers

The hashtag #Medalsforthewest was trending strongly yesterday as the people of West Cork got over one set of celebrations and got down to preparations for the next in the hope that rowing brothers Gary, 23, and Paul, 22, O’Donovan will continue their success today in the men’s lightweight double sculls.

Gary O'Donovan (bow) and his brother Paul rejoice after making it into today's final in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: Getty

Skibbereen Credit Union was gearing up to do it all again. Giant screens, set up for yesterday’s semi-final, in which the O’Donovan brothers finished third, remain in place for today’s final, scheduled for 2.44pm. The women’s final of the lightweight double sculls, in which Ireland will be represented by Claire Lambe and Sinead Lynch, takes place in Rio at 2.32pm.

Back in Skibbereen, a Brazilian drummer has been tasked with getting the town in the mood. Schoolkids from Lisheen National School, the Olympians’ alma mater, will watch the race in an upstairs room in the credit union, where staff are decked out in T-shirts proclaiming: “We’re well used to a bit of wind.”

The by-now infamous phrase was uttered by the brothers during an interview when windy weather threatened to wreak havoc with rowing in Rio.

An original order of 30 T-shirts for credit union staff has been upped by another 100, such is the demand. However it’s a limited edition run, so the T-shirts could become a collector’s item.


The Corner Bar in Skibbereen, which has a long association with Skibbereen Rowing Club, will be another hotspot today, and it is where many are due to gather once the race is over.

However, Cork senior footballer Brian Hurley, from Union Hall, will not be among them because he’s on bed rest after tearing hamstring off the bone.

Jackie Neville, aunt of Olympic rowing brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan, cheers them on in Skibbereen as she watches them qualify for the final of the Rio Olympics men’s lightweight double sculls. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney

A former classmate of Gary’s at St Fachtna’s De La Salle secondary school in Skibbereen, he said the two brothers used to get a bus to the rowing club four miles away every day.

“They’d get the bus over and back every day before and after school. They made a lot of sacrifices and now their commitment is paying off,” Brian said.

Susan Hosford, Skibbereen Rowing Club, with Catriona O’Driscoll, principal of Lisheen National School, where Gary and Paul O’Donovan went to school.

He described the brothers as “gas men altogether”.

“Gary was in my class and nothing fazed him, an upcoming test, nothing. They were two very laid-back characters,” Brian said.

“And they were always rowing, never playing football. So hopefully the news will be good today and they’ll win a medal.”


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