In-form Irish rowing team seek first Coupe de la Jeunesse success

Rowing Ireland will be looking to continue their rich vein of form having set off for Hazewinkel in Belgium where they will compete in the Coupe de la Jeunesse this coming Saturday and Sunday.

The Coupe is rowed over 2000m and competed for by 13 European countries; Ireland, Great Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. The event has only ever been won by Great Britain (12 wins), Italy (11 wins), and France (eight wins), which is something the Irish representation is hoping to change this year and next, as this is another international event of which Ireland is host nation in 2018.

Ireland previously hosted the event in 2008.

The majority of the Irish team have international experience, with the men’s quadruple scull and women’s pair having already competed at the Junior Europeans.

Barry O’ Flynn (Cork), Ross Corrigan (Enniskillen) and Barry Connolly (Cork) will row their second Coupe this weekend while Aaron Johnston (Enniskillen) will compete at his third Coupe event.

The women’s team will be represented by Fermoy Rowing Club’s Gill McGirr and Ellie O’Reilly, who also competed at this year’s European Juniors placing ninth overall.

The women’s single scull, Georgia O’ Brien, will be a first representation at Coupe standard for newly affiliated club Kenmare.

Matt Dundon from Clonmel, together with James Quinlan from Castleconnell and Jack Keating from Carlow will join Cork Boat Club’s Barry O’Flynn to compete in the men’s quad, while Nathan Timoney of Enniskillen will receive his first green jersey competing in a coxless four with Johnston, Corrigan, and Connolly.

The team will be accompanied by coaches Ray Morrison (Fermoy) and John Walsh (St Joseph’s), as well as team manager Michelle Carpenter, and will hope to improve further on last year’s results — Ireland took silver in the women’s pair and bronze in the women’s quadruple sculls.

Rowing Ireland’s recent success on the world stage was recognised with the U23s.

Out of three Irish crews that competed at the 2017 World Rowing U23 Championships, which took place from July 19 to 23 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, two returned with bronze medals.

The lightweight men’s pair, UCD’s Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley, fought hard in Saturday’s A final, holding second position for the middle 1,000 metres of the race and looking like they would retain it, but Turkey narrowly overtook them in the final 500 pushing them to third while the Italians took gold.

Meanwhile, the lightweight men’s quadruple scull of Niall Beggan (Commercial), Stephen O’ Connor (UCC), Andrew Goff (UCD) and Shane O’ Connell (UCD) won their initial heat comfortably and went straight to the A/B semi-finals, where a third place finish put them into the medal race. They knew they also had a chance at a medal and did not disappoint, fighting off Great Britain, Italy, and France to secure Ireland’s second bronze, while Switzerland and Austria took gold and silver respectively.

Ireland’s third crew, Skibbereen’s Jake and Fintan McCarthy, also got off to a positive start, obtaining a stunning win in their heat of the lightweight men’s double sculls.

However, the Irish were pushed to fourth by a photo finish in the semi-final. This meant they would race the B final on Sunday, and by taking second place here the brothers secured an excellent eighth overall placing.

Ireland were also represented in Scotland last weekend, as the annual Home International Regatta took place in Strathclyde Park. Irish crews had six wins in total with the women’s double sculls and junior women’s four, as well as both the men’s and women’s crews in the quadruple sculls and lightweight pairs.

All took wins in their respective categories overcoming crews from England, Scotland, and Wales. Out of the four nations, the overall standings after the Regatta saw Ireland’s senior men place fourth overall, while the senior women were third. The Irish junior men and women were both second overall, for the second year in a row.

A total of 25 Irish clubs were represented at the event, from each of the four provinces. Next year, Ireland is the host nation, and the 2018 Regatta will take place at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.


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