Skibbereen trio fly flag for Ireland with Belgrade medal haul

Irish Rowing — and those involved in the sport in Skibbereen — were yesterday celebrating an impressive medal haul from the World Cup Regatta in Belgrade.

Skibbereen trio fly flag for Ireland with Belgrade medal haul

Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll claimed gold in the lightweight pair while Denise Walsh secured silver in the lightweight women’s single sculls.

The trio are all members of the famous Cork club.

O’Driscoll and O’Donovan produced a storming sprint finish to come home ahead of crews from Russia, Great Britain and Hungary in yesterday’s A final.

O’Donovan paid credit to Dominic Casey, the Skibb legend who is now the Ireland head coach, and also admitted their eyes are now on bigger prizes.

He said: “We were feeling really good during the race, we’ve got a new coach (Casey), so that is a new step for Ireland. We are going to a training camp in Varese, Italy and looking to implement new training and technique before the Europeans.”

Clubmate Denise Walsh trailed for much of her A final before making her move down the final 500 metres - moving from fourth to second behind Patricia Merz of Sweden.

Olympic silver medal winners, Paul and Gary O’Donovan, finished fourth in the lightweight men’s double with Great Britain, Czech Republic and Poland claiming the podium spots.

Sanita Puspure, who reached the A final via Saturday’s repechage, finished fifth in the 2017 season opener.

Rowing Ireland’s chief executive Hamish Adams expressed delight with the medal haul and the performances from the entire Irish representation.

He said: “We are thrilled. On an individual level it is a great boost for Mark, Shane and Denise to win medals and have the experience of days like this.

“The lads, Paul and Gary, will be disappointed but they have not been rowing together that much in recent times, with Paul finishing his studies in Dublin while Gary has been based in Cork.

“But I’d expect much different results from them as the season progresses.”

All of those who competed over the weekend will now head to that warm weather training camp in Italy to finalise preparations for the European Championships in the Czech Republic at the end of the month.

Adams continued: “We exceeded high hopes. Our expectation was for everyone to make their A finals and we achieved that objective.

“But this is very early season, there is a lot of fine tuning to be done in the weeks and months ahead and everyone is looking to peak for the world championships in Florida in September.”

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