Out of three crews that competed at the 2017 World Rowing U23 Championships, which took place from the 19th to 23rd July in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, two return with Bronze medals: the lightweight men’s pair and lightweight men’s quadruple sculls.
The lightweight men’s pair of Shane Mulvaney and David O’ Malley were second in their heat on Wednesday, meaning they needed to race again in a repechage as only the winner would qualify directly for the A Final. However, the pair made sure they used this second chance to secure their place in the final, leading the field from the onset and taking an impressive win, clear of nearest rivals France by almost three seconds. In Saturday’s A Final, the UCD crew fought hard, holding second position for the middle 1000 metres, with Turkey narrowly overtaking them in the final 500 pushing them to third while the Italians took Gold. The first Bronze medal for Ireland at the event.
Meanwhile, the lightweight men’s quad of Niall Beggan (Commercial), Stephen O’ Connor (UCC), Andrew Goff (UCD) and Shane O’ Connell (UCD) had a good start to their World Championships campaign, winning their heat comfortably on Wednesday leading for the majority of the race, and going on to the A/B semi-finals on Friday. Here, the competition was noticeably stronger and the Irish crew found themselves towards the back of the field for some time, however they made their move in the closing stages pushing from 5th to 4th and eventually the all-important 3rd – meaning a place in Saturday’s A Final. Here, they knew they 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, had their first race on Thursday where they obtained a stunning win in their heat of the lightweight men’s double sculls, crossing the finish line ahead of the rest of the field by just less than five seconds, and progressing straight to the A/B semi-finals as a result. Here, a top three finish was essential to advance to the A Final and remain in medal contention, and in a very tight contest where the first three boats all finished within two seconds of each other, the Irish were pushed to fourth by the most minimal of margins – less than a second. This meant they would race the B Final on Sunday, and by taking second place here the Skibbereeen brothers secured an excellent eighth overall placing.
A fantastic result for our Team for all three crews to finish within the top ten boats of their category, with two securing medals. Congratulations to the athletes and to coaches Dominic Casey and Paul Thornton, as well as Team Manager Violet Hayes.
The full results from the 2017 World Rowing U23 Championships can be found here.