Skib Rowing Club ‘high on life’ after O’Donovan and McCarthy claim gold

The Skibbereen pair were favourites from the off and lived up to that tag, overpowering Germany, their closest rivals
Skib Rowing Club ‘high on life’ after O’Donovan and McCarthy claim gold

Golden boys: Ireland's Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan on the podium for the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

A West Cork town is celebrating after Ireland made history in the early hours of Thursday morning. 

Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy claimed Ireland's first-ever gold medal in rowing at the Olympics.

The Skibbereen pair were favourites from the off and lived up to that tag, overpowering Germany, their closest rivals.

The win, Ireland's first gold since Katie Talyor won at London 2012, has Skibbereen Rowing Club in a jubilant mood.

Captain of the club, Sean O'Brien, said everyone is delighted with the win.

“It’s not hitting in properly at all yet. High on life at the moment. “ 

He added that people will already have an eye on the Paris Games in 2024.

“In three years, Paris beckons again. And there’s four people trying to get into that boat. There’s two in it.

“Jake (McCarthy) and Gary (O’Donovan), they’ll be looking at that boat again for Paris too. It’s going to be a hot boat for Paris one way or another.” 

Violet Hayes, chair of the club, said the town was buzzing with the win.

“Our hearts were in our mouths but at the same time, it was just amazing.” 

She added that the whole club was smiling. 

When asked on Newstalk Breakfast if she had expected the rowers to take gold, Ms Hayes said she did not relax until the “boat hit the line".

“The shouts could be heard, if not in Dublin, at least in Cork.” 

The rowing club, which is 51 years old, was where Paul and Fintan started their Olympic journey, she said.

They had shown great tenacity and a determination to be the best which came from the club’s “great sense of place and pride.”

'Tremendous achievement'

Tributes to the success of Paul and Fintan have been plastered all over social media, with the President of Ireland one those praising the pair.

“After the magnificent success in women’s rowing yesterday, today we celebrate Ireland’s first Olympic gold medal in rowing, won so deservedly by Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in the lightweight double sculls,” said Michael D Higgins.

“Theirs is a tremendous achievement, which gives great inspiration to young people and aspiring athletes all over Ireland.” 

Taoiseach, and fellow Cork man, Micheál Martin also offered his congratulations.

“An outstanding gold medal for Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy,” he tweeted.

“Breathtaking victory in the lightweight double sculls – a race that will live long in history.

A special day for Irish rowing and the Irish people.

Speaking after the race, McCarthy said that he felt “really prepared” and that the expectation didn’t way too heavy on them.

They said that they haven’t taken in what the result means for Team Ireland, with Paul joking “you’d be tired there after the race, you wouldn’t thinking much”.

The gold is Ireland’s second medal at the 2020 Games, after Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh, and Emily Hegarty won bronze in the women's coxless fours yesterday.

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