The Coupe de la Jeunesse team travelled to Budapest, Hungary on Wednesday evening 29th July. Athletes were well prepared after weeks training in their bases in Enniskillen and Cork. The team travelled to the venue in Szeged in the south of Hungary early on Thursday morning after waking up to rain and what seemed to be a typical Irish day. They were eager to get into their boats and try out the impressive course. Crews were pleased with their outings on Thursday and looked forward to more training on the course on Friday, including trying out the “clog” system which is a feature of the course in Szeged.
Friday was another day filled with Irish weather and the team were pleased not to have to tackle the heat of up to 40 degrees that had been forecast. The majority of crews had two spins on Friday before the opening ceremony in the evening. Aoife Casey, Skibbereen RC, took pride in carrying the Irish flag an honour which was bestowed on her due to her family’s dedication and commitment to the sport over the years. Elizabeth Clarke from Portora Boat Club carried the team sign “Irorszag” – Ireland in Hungarian.
Racing started early for the team on Saturday with all crews going from heats to A finals. Spirits were good in the team and the news of the Coupe de la Jeunesse coming to Corkin 2018 gave the group a lifting boost.
The first final of the day was the JM2– which featured Austria, Italy, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland. It was a tough race for the Portora pair with strong crews from the other Coupe countries and the Enniskillen boys came in a fighting fifth place beating Great Britain into sixth. The JM2x was up next with the Cork crew rowing well to come in sixth place. At 15:15 the M4X raced , the Gold medal winners from last year’s Coupe were determined to pull off the double in their last Coupe challenge. Having come in second in their heat the team and huge contingent of Irish supporters were on tender hooks, they continued to do that the whole way down the course until the last few metres where they beat Italy by 2 seconds with Spain coming in third. The W1X race was at 15:30, Derval Forde who rows for Cork Boat Club but lives in Spain was coming to the Coupe as Irish and Spanish junior national champion. Forde came in fifth place with only half a second between her and the local Hungarian girl.
At 15:45 the W2X was up. The two Skibbereen girls were the youngest in the Irish team, with Emily turning 17 today and another two years of junior for Aoife, they have a great future ahead of them, they showed this by a resounding second place, and silver medal with Austria winning and Belgium who had a strong team throughout the regatta in third. The last race of the day featured the WJ2- from Portora, they came in a positive fifth position ahead of a strong French pair.
The heat really went up a notch on Saturday with it hitting 30 degrees at times. But the team were thrilled with their results of Gold & Silver medals in the first day of the event as well as placing all crews in the A Finals.
On Sunday a cross wind was developing on the course and the jury started selecting the lanes accordingly for crews, the heat was being felt by crews who were concentrating on keeping focused and hydrated. The JM2X were up first on Sunday morning and finished sixth in their competitive heat. The M4X had a good heat and came second their focus was now on the final with their aim to take the second gold. In the W1X Dervla Forde came second in her heat. Next up the Skibbereen duo of Casey and Hegarty who also qualified for the A final behind Belgium but ahead of Italy. The last Irish heat of Sunday was the W2- who came in fourth. The Portora girls needed to wait until heat B was completed as the fastest looser would go into the A final (due to only seven crews racing in total in this event). Unfortunately they did not make the A final, they had met Britain and Hungary in their tough heat and both countries ended up on the podium.
As the weather was heating up the first Irish final of the day was a straight one with the M2- . The Portora boys had waited all morning for action and fought a hard battle with Switzerland to take fifth with the British coming in sixth. At 11:25 M2x were out to prove a point in their B final and won it ahead of Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria and the host nation Hungary. Tensions were now building in the grandstand with the large contingent of Irish supporters pacing for the race to come down. They were not disappointed when Ireland won their second Gold medal of the event by a 2:21 seconds over the Italians in second place and Spain in third. Emotions were high among parents, coaches and family members who had travelled as the flag was raised and the anthem sang. To top off the glory as the team stood on the slip to await their medals the W1X stormed to the finish. The team spirit ran high as the quad left their celebrations on the slip to cheer on their fellow team member, it paid off with Dervla Forde coming in to a storming finish to take bronze. The final race for the Irish contingent was the W2x. the Skibbereen girls once again did not disappoint with another silver medal to add to the teams haul, overall a very successful weekend with a total of Five medals: Two Gold, Two Silver and One Bronze.
Live results were posted over the weekend on Twitter and a photo album of Rowing Ireland’s journey over the weekend can be found on the Rowing Ireland Facebook page.
The Future of Irish Rowing looks bright with these young dedicated athletes, many of which have more years of junior ahead and those who don’t already have aspirations of U-23. They deserve a whole hearted congratulations on their hard work and success over the weekend, together with their dedicated coaches and head coach.
Michelle Carpenter, Team Manager
JW2x : Aoife Casey (Skibbereen RC), Emily Hegarty (Skibbereen RC) (Silver both day)
JW2- : Emma Glover (Portora BC), Elizabeth Clarke (Portora BC) (fifth & seventh)
JW1x : Dervla Forde (Cork Boat Club) (fifth and third)
JM2x : Shane O’ Connell (Cork BC), Ronan Byrne (Shandon BC) (sixth & seventh)
JM2- : Aaron Johnson (Portora BC), Barney Rix (Portora BC) (fifth both days)
JM4x : Colm Hennessy (Shandon BC), Eoghan Whittle (Castleconnell BC), Patrick Munnelly (Athlone BC), Andrew Goff (Waterford BC) (Gold Both days)
Head Coach: Pat McInerney Coaches: David O’Donovan, Dave Ewart, Alan Penkert, Moncho Ferrer
Drivers/Delegates & Umpire: Tom Fennessey, Denis Regan, Lisa O’Callaghan
Team Manager: Michelle Carpenter