In these odd times where there has been no domestic rowing events or regattas since march due to COVID and where the rescheduled National Rowing Championships rescheduled to 12th September and then cancelled in the middle of August the rowing calendar was looking very bleak for all and sundry. However, the one chink of light was for the men and women athletes that were trailing for the Irish national squad. The only two International regattas allowed to proceed this season due to COVID are the European Under 23 championships and the European Senior Championships.
Clonmel’s Daire Lynch who is studying in Yale came home early in March and in the COVID shut down was able to train in his gran parents in Monahan and then at home in Clonmel. When stage 1 of the reopening happened, we were able to get on the water in small pods and Daire brushed off the cobwebs and learned again that the months off the water softened the hands. Long spells on the water had to be tempered as the generation of a lot of new blisters on the hands would require time to adjust.
Sessions on the Suir prevailed and then after a period the national trials took place down in Cork at the National Rowing Centre for the few that had proved their caliber on the Indoor Rowing machine. Daire was successful and was selected to row at the U23 event in Germany in early September and the Senior European Championships that will take place in mid-October in Poland.
Daire was paired up with Ronan Byrne from Cork in the double. Ronan had a fantastic 2019 where he won a silver medal in the 2X at the world championships last year which qualified the 2x for the 2020 Olympics. Daire had also paired with Ronan for the Junior worlds in 2016 where they came 8th. So, they have potential pedigree to work with.
The European Under 23 event took place on 6-7th September in Duisburg, Germany. On Saturday Daire and Ronan rowed well in their heat and won that comfortably which enable them an immediate place in the semi final and as they won their heat would get one of the center lanes in the semi-final. The semi- final was early on Sunday morning and again the lads performed well and took first place again. Winning the semi-final also gives you one of the preferred center lanes as it enables you to see and be aware of what is happening left and right of you down the course.
The final was on after lunch at 3pm. Ireland were in lane 3. Off the start the lads were in the bunch and were fourth after the first 250 meters. There was a bit of a steering wobble during that period that would have cost then a meter or so. The German crew led after 500mt with Spain in 2nd and Ireland in 3rd beginning to make inroads. The German crew started to fade and the Irish and Belarus crews powering through to take the lead with Ireland in front at the halfway mark ahead of the Belarus crew with Spain in third. From there on in the Irish crew kept piling on the power with sublime catch speed increasing their lead all the way to the finish line to win the Gold medal in a time of 6:23.56 winning by a margin just shy of a length of clear water.
Congratulations from all at Clonmel RC to Daire and Ronan and to Daire parents Niall and Joanna. The first Clonmel man to race at an Under 23 championship and to finish with Gold is fantastic.
The lads are off to Italy now for another 2-week camp in preparation for the Senior Europeans in October. Good hunting.