Successful Weekend for UCCRC at Cork Regatta.

Last weekend saw UCCRC take to the lake at Inniscarra once again for Cork Regatta, held at the National Rowing Centre in Farran. Being a Grand League Regatta, some of Ireland’s top rowing talent was on display, as crews tested the waters and potential opponents ahead of the Irish National Championships on the 14-16 July.

The Senior Men’s squad fielded various combinations of pairs and fours. On Saturday, the combinations of David Synnott and Stephen Murphy, and David Keohane and Julian Larkin found themselves battling in both the heats, and later the C Final of the Division 1 Men’s Pairs, with the former emerging victorious. Saturday evening saw these pairs merge and form an Intermediate Coxed Four, along with the services of cox Cormac O’Connell. A good heat time took the men into the B Final, in which they placed second. Sunday saw Julian and Cormac make way for Thomas Higgins, to form a Senior Coxless Four. This combination finished third in the category, a good result for a young crew facing seasoned rowers from Commercial and NUIG.

Ronan Byrne and Evan White balanced the sculling side of the equation for the Senior Men. Both competed in the Division 1 Single Sculls on Saturday Morning. Ronan finished fourth in the A Final, racing against competition including the O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen. This placed him 4th overall in a field of 59 scullers, and impressive feat by any stretch of the imagination.

These results will no doubt give Head Coach Paul Thornton plenty to mull over as he plots his next move, eyes always firmly set on the National Championships.

Meanwhile, the Novice Men, Peter O’Callaghan, Killian Burke, David Reidy, and Conor Nagle, raced above their station, in both the Club 1 and Club 2 quads (coxless and coxed respectively, with Cormac once again taking the tiller). Despite the vastly more experienced competition, the UCCRC novices pulled no punches and took no prisoners as they produced promising results. Most notable of these was the gripping A Final of Division 2 Coxed Quads, in which they were narrowly beaten to the Club 2 title by Shandon BC. This excellent weekend of racing stands testimony to the trojan effort of their coach James Moroney, who will no doubt be eyeing up Championship events in July.

The Women’s Squad were involved in perhaps the most gripping race of the weekend in the Senior Women’s composite with Skibbereen, which saw Fiona O’Keefe and Aifric Keogh join forces with six Skibb ladies to form a Senior 8. A six second deficit in the heats to NUIG initially put the on the back foot, and the situation was much the same halfway through the final. However, they maintained composure and slowly reeling the NUIG back in, pushing through them just before the line in a thrilling finish which left many a sweaty palm and bitten nail among the sizeable crowd of spectators which had gathered for the event.

Aifric moved back into her pair with partner Aileen Crowley from UCD, a combination fresh from representing Ireland at the second World Cup Regatta in Poznan not two weeks ago. This high level of racing experience proved too much for their competitors, allowing Aifric and Aileen to sweep the Senior Pair event with relative ease. Another Women’s Pair consisting of Fiona O’Keefe and Katie Nagle competed in the Intermediate category, in they achieved laudable standing among the other Intermediate Pairs.

The crew of Fiona, Katie, Ellen Desmond, and Clara Rowe-Ham reprised their roles in the Division 1 Coxed Fours, putting in another strong performance under the guidance of coach Richard Looney. This is now a well-established combination, having previously raced together at London Metropolitan Regatta as well as at many domestic competitions. A solid performance in the A Final of the Division 1 Coxed Fours saw them come a close second in the Club 1 category, a result which will only act as further motivation, as they are spurred on into the final weeks of prep before July.

The club was looking to build upon the success of previous regattas to build vital momentum as we edge ever closer to the ultimate stage on the Irish rowing scene, and can come away both pleased and ready to commit to the final push in the training plan.