Reigning senior eight national rowing champions, NUIG will be hoping to make it three straight wins at the Irish Rowing Championships this weekend.
Over 1,800 rowers, making up 720 crews will compete over three days of racing, the highlight being the Senior Eight or ‘Big Pot’ race on Saturday afternoon.
This year the successful NUIG team, who won the senior eight in 2009 and 2010, linked up with Galway’s Grainne Mhaol team to form a composite crew. With experienced senior eight winners Cormac Folan, James Wall and Alan Martin in the boat, this will be the crew to beat.
However Queens University, runners up two years in a row by mere seconds, will feel that this must be their year. The Queen’s crew includes Michael Ewing, Rory O’Connor and Colin Willliamson.
UCD will also fancy their chances and line out with a crew that includes old hands Finbar Manning, David Neale and Sean Jacob. With four strong competing crews the line-up is completed by young emerging rowers from Trinity College.
In the single sculls, 17-year old Paul O’Donovan of Skibbereen aims to become one of the youngest ever winners of the title. O’Donovan will have to fight off
strong challenges from Muckross sculler Sean Casey and John Keohane from Lee Valley, Cork. Just two weeks ago, Keohane beat O’Donovan into second place at the Cork city regatta.
Derry rower Laura d’Urso, home from her scholarship in the US, who has represented Ireland at international level, leads an entry of 11 in the women’s single sculls. D’Urso will face stiff competition from up and coming Holly Nixon of Portora, Skibbereen’s Orla Hayes and Eimear Moran, Three Castles, Blessington.
Record numbers have entered the Junior events with 50 in the under-15 race, 43 at under 16 level and 29 in the Junior 18 race.
The premier event of the domestic rowing season, the Irish Rowing Championships, kicks off tomorrow and runs over three days at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.