NUI Galway shared the honours as top club at this year’s Irish Rowing Championships, enjoying their most successful year in the club’s history.
NUI Galway and its alumni club, Grainne Mhaol, won a record eight championship victories, including the two blue riband events in Ireland – the men and women’s senior eights, while St Joseph’s College (Bish) won the men’s junior 14 quads and coxed fours. Tribesmen’s Siobhan McCrohan endured an epic battle with Claire Lambe, (Old Collegians) in the women’s lightweight scull, before being pipped for the title by just two seconds.
It is the third year in a row NUI Galway has claimed the men’s senior eight title, and they were forced to show great character to charge from a length down to edge out Trinity College Dublin in the final. It was also the most successful season of any previous women’s squad to date with five championship wins.
The championships at Inniscarra Lake in Cork attracted 2,200 rowers representing approximately 50 clubs in 40 championship events, and with more than 970 crews, this year’s event was the biggest to date in its 100 years.
Team NUI Galway had an encouraging opening day, winning the men’s intermediate coxed four, the women’s club coxed four, and in a composite entry with Cork Boat Club, the women’s senior coxless four. NUI Galway’s alumni club, Gráinne Mhaol, took the men’s senior coxless four title for the third year in a row.
On Saturday the college won the women’s senior coxless pair event with a commanding performance.
The final day produced three more wins for NUI Galway rowers who took the women’s club eight title, the women’s senior eight title - again in partnership with Cork Boat Club - and in the final race of the regatta, NUI Galway and alumni partners Gráinne Mhaol won the premier event, the men’s senior eight, by a mere 0.41 seconds in a thrilling battle with Trinity.
In addition to the eight titles, NUI Galway were also second in the senior men’s pair, intermediate men’s eight, women’s intermediate eight and women’s novice quad, while Sean O’Connor was a bronze medalist in the men’s intermediate singles sculls.
Sports Scholarship holder and current NUI Galway Sports Award winner Aifric Keogh won three senior titles in eight, four and pair. From the winning eight, NUI Galway Sports Scholarship holders Rob O’Callaghan, Richard Bennett and Kevin Neville, along with Gráinne Mhaol’s Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan, will represent Ireland in the men’s heavyweight coxless fours event at the u-23 World Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, from July 23-27.