Irish keep medal dream alive

ALTHOUGH not quite in the circumstances they might have expected, the Irish men’s lightweight four of Gearoid Towey, Eugene Coakley, Richard Archibald and Paul Griffin have earned themselves a place in tomorrow’s World Championship final.

They took third place in yesterday’s semi-final at Lake Dorney in Eton, beaten by current World and Olympic champions France and the hosts Great Britain.

France won the semi-final, in a time of 6.10.32, while Great Britain finished just under half a second down in second place, with the Irish quartet another half a second down in third.

China won the second semi-final, again by the tightest of margins from Canada, with the Australian four taking the final qualifying spot.

Remarkably a mere second separates the top five qualifiers for Sunday’s final which is sure to be a thrilling encounter.

Having beaten all their major challengers to win this year’s World Cup series, the Irish camp might have been expecting a bit more from the lightweight four, but there was considerable relief at least that they have reached tomorrow’s final.

In their race, France led the charge with nothing between the remainder of the field at half a boat length down. At the halfway point the French four maintained a slender lead over the USA and Great Britain, with Ireland fourth. It was then the Irish quartet upped their rate and moved past the Americans, pulling to within half a boat length of the leaders.

As Richard Archibald said later: “It was a good solid race from us because it’s always going to be cutthroat in a world championship semi-final. We made ground just after halfway — that’s the way we race — and we’re very happy with how we finished, long and strong.

“We didn’t lose anything in the last 200 metres, so it was a good race for us in that regard,” he said.

The Irish four line up in the final in lane one tomorrow at 2.15pm, alongside Great Britain, France, China, Canada, and Australia.

Looking to the final in determined mood, Irish stroke man Paul Griffin said: “Sunday is a new day. It’s a new race, everything else is history then. Sunday has always been our aim and now we want to peak then — when it really matters.”

Earlier in the day the lightweight women’s double (LW2x) of Sinéad Jennings and Niamh Ní Cheilleachair lost out on a place in the final by finishing fifth in their semi-final.

The pair were bitterly disappointed to miss out on a place in the final, their fifth place in a hotly contested semi-final not being good enough.

The Irish duo started slowly and despite a huge push throughout the second half of the race, were unable to make up the lost ground. The quietly fancied Australians rowed brilliantly to take the win, from last year’s silver medallists Finland with hosts Great Britain in the third qualifying spot. The disappointed Irish twosome goes forward to the B final tomorrow morning for places seven to 12.

Irish manager Mick O’Callaghan said: “The double were disappointed with how they performed. The other boats got three and a half seconds on them over the first quarter and that left them with too much to do. They are anxious to go out and perform to as they know they can in the B final.”

In their concluding race at these championships, Ireland’s lightweight men’s double (LM2x) of Richard Coakley and Tim Harnedy finished 21st overall; taking third in a closely contested D final.

The men’s heavyweight four (M4-) of Cormac Folan, Sean O’Neill, Sean Casey and Alan Martin contest the B final this morning for places seven to twelve at these World Championships.

Ireland finished 10th overall at last year’s event so they will be targeting an improved placing this time out. They will face some stiff opposition from the Czech Republic, New Zealand, and Canada but the Irish four are determined to perform to their maximum.

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