Irish Rowing Championships 2010

Back Row: Andy Wells (Ladies Coach), Laura Mills, Hannah Addley, Hannah McGrath, Hannah Lavery, Alexandra Greene and Rob Edmondson (Ladies Head Coach)
Front Row: Claire Mcilwaine, Ellen Thompson (cox), Laura Coll and Katie Keaney.

Queen’s ladies take sweep novice titles!

Last weekend, Queen’s Rowing took part in the climactic event of the Regatta season, the Irish Rowing Championships 2010, at the National Rowing Centre in Farran Wood, Cork. The new format of the Irish regatta season condensed this year’s championship to a two day event, consisting of no fewer than four-seated boat classes, along with Junior sculls. Queen’s fielded nine crews in all, with each crew member hopeful of claiming a coveted Irish Pot.

On Friday, Queen’s started proceedings with the Men’s senior 4- semi-final. Queen’s finished second to St. Michael’s Rowing Club in their four-boat semi-final, earning them a final spot. In the final, Queen’s finished fifth. NUIG took first, after rowing through UCD’s Prince Albert Challenge Cup winning crew in the closing stretch. This was an early indicator that NUIG were not going to give up their eight’s crown easily.

The novice men’s eight was next to race. The crew finished last in a four boat semi-final, two lengths of qualification pace and unfortunately missed out on a final spot. The crew showed enthusiasm throughout regatta season and now have an appreciation of the standard required to win at Irish championships. With this in mind, the guys can now approach next season with professionalism and greater determination from the outset.

The novice ladies’ eight was next to row in a straight final. The crew entered the championships with great confidence, having won Irish and British University Championships during the season. The crew also had a fantastic row at Henley, despite meeting the eventual winners in the first round. This gave the ladies invaluable race experience, with which to approach the Irish Championships.

After a faltered start, the Queen’s ladies began to lay down the power with each and every stroke. As they did so, the crew inched their way through the field and passed St. Michael’s in the first thousand. The crew then pulled away into a commanding position, leaving them to respond to anything the St. Michael’s crew had to offer. In the closing straights the Queen’s ladies had clear water and pushed on to the line, receiving no challenge. The ladies took the win in a time of 6:41.3, exactly 5 seconds over second placed St. Michaels. This was the first Queen’s ladies Irish Championship winning eight since 2000, when the novice ladies achieved the same feat.

On Saturday, Queen’s men’s novice fours started the day off. QUB B failed to get through their quarter-final, and the A crew progressed in first position. In a tight semi-final, Queens A were narrowly pipped by Skibbereen RC and Workmens RC, with only 0.35 seconds denying them a place in the final. This was a disappointing end to the crew’s championship, after showing such promise throughout the year.

The men’s senior eights was the next event up. In typical fashion, no previous meetings had taken place between many of the competing crews. A composite of OC and Commercial was thrown into the mix and Queen’s had not met NUIG or Muckross at any domestic regattas. Any comparisons were purely based on each crews results throughout the year, the age-old meaningless references from which the rowing community base their predictions. Liam Gorman of the Irish Times pitched Queen’s as favourites, for the rest of the field this made Queen’s their target. Both Queen’s crews drew the same semi-final, with three to go through in a four-boat race. Queen’s A finished first and Queen’s B third behind the Commercial/OC composite. It was on to the final.

In lane order, Queen’s B, NUIG, Queen’s A, Muckross and the Commercial/OC composite. Out of the blocks, Muckross went storming, seizing an early advantage. The rest of the field chased on hard. Through 1000m, Queen’s and Muckross dead level! At this stage two old familiars began to pull away, Queens and NUIG. Queen’s maintained a narrow lead on the NUIG crew. As the crews swept past the spectating area, Queen’s lead was being narrowed by NUIG who fought back hard. The crews then pulled level and both bow-balls danced, the lead changing on each stroke. The hooter went! In an exact replica of last year’s championship, these two crews had stormed the field with no clue to who had taken it on the line. The crowd debated awaiting a verdict, the finish judges analysed the photo-finish, the crews rowed back to the slipways.

The announcement came, NUIG by a gut-wrenching three feet (0.13 of a second)!

Stark contrast swept the faces of both crews, for one elation, for Queen’s heart break. Both crews had produced a fantastic spectacle but this was no consolation to any Queen’s man. Either crew was a deserved winner but this year NUIG defended their title through a stunning row. This goes to prove that Irish Senior Eight Championships don’t come easy!

The ladies’ novice four was the closing race for Queen’s Irish Championships. The ladies’ cruised through their semi-final to gain a centre lane for the final. Four of the ladies had experienced victory on Friday in the eights. They were now intent on repeating their success in the final of the fours event. The ladies powered out off the blocks and no one would match their tenacity. The four pulled away from the field, gaining clear water by the line and earning themselves an Irish Championship. The crew won in a time of 7:35.9, over 4 seconds ahead of second placed St. Michaels. The novice ladies truly were Queen’s success story of the championships, and the fours win let Queen’s Rowing exit on a high. The girls will now make the step up to intermediate for next season, which should prove an exciting challenge for both them and their coaching team.

Women’s Novice 4+, Irish Champions 2010.
left to right: Rob Edmondson (Ladies Head Coach), Claire Mcilwaine, Hannah McGrath, Laura Mills, Alexandra Greene, Victoria Mulholland (cox), Dr. Stuart Kelly (Ladies Coach) and Mark Fangen-Hall (Queen’s Head Coach).

And so ends one of the most exciting seasons in Queen’s history. The men and women’s squads achieved one of Queen’s biggest pulls in recent years. The focus now shifts to next year’s recruitment so that many more students can experience the exhilarating sport of rowing, just as this fine squad has done. Queen’s Rowing would like to thank all the rowers, coaches, alumni and supporters who have collectively made the 2009-2010 season one to remember for many years.

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