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Women's Four and Lightweight Double Provide Highlights on Good First Day for Irish UPDATE

9th April 2021
Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh of the Ireland Four. Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh of the Ireland Four.

Ireland’s good first day at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, was all the better because two crews targeting qualification next month for Tokyo did the business.

Of the eight Ireland crews competing, the rejigged women’s four were the dark horses. Well, no more. Only by winning their heat would they qualify for the A Final. This was pressure for what is a new formation, but Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty showed none of it. Russia led early, but Ireland took over with good speed in the middle stages and won well – in the faster time of the two heats. The Netherlands, who won the first heat from Britain, are likely to be hunting medals alongside the Irish and British on Sunday. 

The lightweight women’s double is another boat targeted at the Olympic Qualifier in Lucerne, and Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey did themselves no harm at all in their heat. They had a fuss-free qualification for their semi-final, slotting in behind the outstanding winners, Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands. Saturday’s semi-final will be a big test of whether this crew can look to go to Tokyo: an A Final place would be hugely promising. 

The draw pushed Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy into an easy heat of the lightweight double sculls, and the world champions ate up the challenge and won easily to qualify for the semi-finals. 

 The heavyweight double will be disappointed to have to negotiate a repechage, but they made it through by taking second behind Serbia. Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle were the world silver medallists in 2019; in this morning's heat only a win would take them straight through to the semi-finals and their sprint finish left them short by .72 of a second, with Russia the surprise winners.  

 The next man up in this heavyweight group is Daire Lynch. He had a fifth-place finish in a tough heat of the men’s single sculls, which was won by Kjetil Borch of Norway. In the repechage, Lynch finished fourth and missed out on a place in the A/B semi-finals.  

 The women’s openweight pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska took second in their heat to go straight to the A Final, while lightweight single scullers Lydia Heaphy and Gary O’Donovan both did well. 

 Heaphy looked like she might have made it hard for herself by leading to halfway, with France and Poland challenging her in the third quarter. However, Heaphy is a sterling competitor and she held off her opponents to win and go straight to the A Final. 

 Gary O’Donovan took the second qualification spot in his heat. 

European Championships 2021, Varese, Italy

Men

Double Sculls – Heat Three (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechages): 1 Russia 6:17.24, 2 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:17.96. Repechage Three (First Two to A/B Semis; rest to C/D Semis): 1 Serbia 6:33.47, 2 Ireland 6:36.22. 

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat Three (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage) 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:54.75.

Single Sculls – Heat Two (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Norway 7:43.60; 5 Ireland (D Lynch) 8:14.87. Repechage Three (Two to A/B Semi-Final; rest to C/D Semi-Final): 4 Ireland 7:19.74.  

Lightweight Single Sculls – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Germany 7:06.17, 2 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:07.23.  

Women

Four – Heat Two (First to A Final; rest to Repechage): Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:36.98. 

Pair – Heat Two (First two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Romania 7:16.40, 2 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska)  7:22.04.

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat One (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Netherlands 7:52.01, 2 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:56.41, 3 Germany. 

Lightweight Single – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:50.15, 2 France 7:50.40. 

Published in Rowing
Liam Gorman

About The Author

Liam Gorman

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Liam Gorman is a writer and reporter. He is the co-author of Little Lady, One Man, Big Ocean, published in the United States and Canada as Crossing the Swell. He is the rowing correspondent of the Irish Times.  

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