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Galway to host inaugural National Head of the River Race

22nd April 2010
Galway to host inaugural National Head of the River Race

Galway's Tribesmen Rowing Club will host Rowing Ireland’s new National Fours and Eights Head of the River race on Saturday when over 500 rowers drawn from clubs across the country, including Northern Ireland, compete in this newly revamped winter season competition.

Tribesmen event organizer, Robin Winkels, said today, “The weather has played havoc with this winter’s rowing calendar to the extent that the original National Fours race scheduled for Limerick in February was cancelled and has been transferred to Galway this weekend and is slotted in with the originally scheduled new National Eights race.”

The nap of the field for the Senior Eights is NUIG, whose crew includes Beijing Olympians Cormac Folan and Alan Martin who will face stiff competition from the Marc Stephens stroked Galway RC boat, as well as a Galway/Commercial composite and an unknown quantity in the University of Limerick boat. Likewise, the NUIG senior fours of Martin, Mannion, Folan and Wall have to be considered favourites, with the main threat coming from neighbours Galway RC.

A three-way battle for supremacy in the men’s junior ranks between St. Joseph’s, Cork Boat Club and Presentation College, Cork is expected.

In the Women’s senior ranks, Commercial will be amongst the front runners, though the local composite of NUIG and Tribesmen will prove a threat in both eights and fours. Locals are likely to hold sway in the non “national”-rated sculling events where NUIG’s Liam Molloy will be the one to watch in the men’s, while a fascinating duel is likely to take place between Tribesmen’s open-weight Lisa Dilleen and lightweight Siobhan McCrohan.

A notable feature of the entry is that sculling is increasing in popularity, especially amongst Novices and 15 – 16 year olds, with 170 of the total entry of 263 boats being of the sculling variety.

In a rare ceremonial outing to mark the event, Carlowman and Olympian Sean Drea, Ireland’s most successful rower, is expected to take to the water on Saturday in his single scull. Sean is a 1975 World Championship silver medalist who came fourth in the 1976 Olympics and holds a record as a three-time winner of the Diamond sculls at Henley from 1973 to 1975.

The course, which is 4.3 kilometres long, starts at Lough Corrib and passes the Quincentennial Bridge finishing at Jes corner. Racing gets underway at Lough Corrib at 10.30 am with the main National Fours races n at 10.30 am and the National Eights at 4.15 pm. Other boat categories will be on offer throughout the day and single sculls and pairs will race off at 2.00 pm.

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