Rowers strike World Cup gold

IRELAND’s lightweight four are targeting World Championship glory after their gold medal success on Saturday.

Gearoid Towey (Neptune), Eugene Coakley (Skibbereen), Richard Archibald (Lady Victoria BC), and Paul Griffin (Muckross) produced a stunning display to win the second leg of the Rowing World Cup in Poznan, Poland.

However, as Griffin explained, their long-term focus remains the World Championships in Eton in late August: “We’re really happy with how we performed, we executed our race plan well. Our middle 1000 metres was really strong, that’s where we burned off the rest of the crews; we’ve been working very hard on that part of our race and it’s really starting to come together now.

“We’ll look to move on towards Lucerne; we still have a bit of work to do so we’ll concentrate on that now for the next couple of weeks, with the Worlds in August our ultimate goal this year.”

The Irish four, silver medallists behind Germany at the first leg in Munich last month, took the lead after 500m and eased home in 5.55.23, a second-and-a-half clear of Australia, with Egypt in third.

The fours were not the only Irish to make the podium. Earlier in the day, the lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x) of Donegal’s Sinéad Jennings and Offaly’s Niamh Ní Cheilleachair took bronze — the first medal at senior international level for an Irish women’s crew in an Olympic class boat.

Ní Cheilleachair said: “We’re delighted to get a medal, it’s a great feeling. We’re really pleased with how we’ve rowed in this regatta; each time we race we’re gaining more and more confidence in each other’s ability and blending together better. Our start was much better, we really attacked the race and it paid great dividends.”

The Irish heavyweight men’s four (M4-) of Cormac Folan, Sean Jacob, Con Collis and Alan Martin finished fifth in their A final, while Caroline Ryan was second in the women’s single scull (W1x) B final.

Sean Casey and Sean O’Neill finished 5th in the B final of the men’s pair (M2-), while the men’s lightweight double (LM2x) of Tim Harnedy and Richard Coakley finished 10th.

The U-23 Irish contingent also shone. The men’s four (M4-) of James Wall, Daniel Barry, Paul O’Brien and Paul Murray finished ninth.

Orla Hayes placed 12th overall in the lightweight women’s single scull (LW1x), the men’s quad (M4x) of Liam Molloy, Ben Clarke, Kieran Rabbitt and Ger Ward were 10th, with the lightweight double (LM2x) of Sean Walsh and James Brinn 14th.

Irish team manager Mick O’Callaghan said: “We can take an awful lot of positives from this regatta as we move onto Lucerne and build for the Worlds.

“Improvement is the name of the game here and all our crews have improved since the first leg only three weeks ago which is really pleasing. We’ll go back to training on Wednesday, get our heads down and continue the hard work preparing for Lucerne, and ultimately the Worlds.”

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