Paul O’Donovan flying as Farran gears up for nationals

If last weekend’s Cork Regatta is a reliable barometer, the National Championships next month (July 14-16) will draw unprecedented entries to the National Rowing Centre at Farran, Cork.

Paul O’Donovan flying as Farran gears up for nationals

The regatta entry in Cork was just 180 crews less than last year’s Rowing Championships – the pinnacle of the Irish calendar - and every current member of the Irish senior High Performance (HP) team was present and accounted for with their respective clubs.

Rio Olympic star Paul O’Donovan underlined his standing as the fastest sculler in the country, covering the 2000m distance in six minutes 50.819 seconds, more than 13 seconds faster than his brother and usual crewmate Gary. St Michael’s’ Declan O’Connor took third.

The O’Donovan brothers were reunited to race the Division One men’s double sculls, duly claiming the title. But hot on their heels was a powerful UCD/Commercial composite, Andrew Goff and Niall Beggan, who finished just over two seconds behind the Olympic silver medallists, leaving European champions in the lightweight pair (a different event), Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, in their wake.

Killorglin’s Monika Dukarska, who competed at World Cup II earlier this month, took the women’s single title, followed by Lisa Dilleen of Cork BC, a former Irish Junior and Senior athlete. Skibbereen’s Aoife Casey, 2017 European Junior silver medallist, took a powerful third place in the final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Casey’s European medal-winning partner in the double sculls, Margaret Cremen, teamed up with club-mate Aoife Lynch to take second in the women’s double, behind Cork Boat Club’s Chloe Mehigan and Lisa Dilleen. European silver medallist Denise Walsh opted for crew boats only at this event, competing in the women’s eight in a Skibbereen/UCC composite which took a dramatic win over NUIG, leaving it to the last few meters to claim victory by less than a second.

The historical Leander Trophy for the men’s eights race, was won easily by UCD, with their second crew also taking third behind last year’s winners NUIG. This regatta was the third and final event of the Rowing Ireland Grand League Series, the overall winners of which will be announced in the coming days.

Internationally, the Irish team is gearing up for the third and final World Cup event of the 2017 series at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne next weekend, July 7-9. This is the traditional venue for the final of the World Rowing Cup, drawing the world’s best to Lake Rotsee.

Skibbereen’s Gary and Paul O’Donovan will again take on the lightweight men’s double sculls, while club-mates Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan aim for their fourth gold medal of the season in the lightweight men’s pair. Old Collegian’s Sanita Puspure will compete in the women’s single sculls, alongside Ireland’s second entry in the event, Monika Dukarska.

The domestic regatta season continues here at home this weekend, with Fermoy Regatta taking place on Saturday. The event will run from 8am to 6pm, with more than 500 crews to take part, up 70 from last year.

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