Athlone Boat Club savour success at national rowing championships

Athlone Boat Club rowers, l-r, Liam Rowan, Zach Megan, Harry Lough, Cian Scanlon, Donagh Claffey, Thomas O’Brien, Martin O’Grady, Cillian Lynum, are pictured with coach, Fergal Hannon, during the recent national rowing championships which took place in Cork

Athlone Boat Club rowers, l-r, Liam Rowan, Zach Megan, Harry Lough, Cian Scanlon, Donagh Claffey, Thomas O’Brien, Martin O’Grady, Cillian Lynum, are pictured with coach, Fergal Hannon, during the recent national rowing championships which took place in Cork

Athlone Boat Club savoured unprecedented success at the national rowing championships which took place in Cork this past weekend.

Under strict Covid-19 public health guidelines, the opening single sculling event, due to occur on Friday was postponed to noon due to forecast of very inclement weather.

However, the torrential rain did not deter exceptional performances from both Martin O’Grady and Donagh Claffey who advanced to the final, both rowers having recently returned from representing Ireland at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria where they both put on a great display of ability at their first ever international rowing event.

The torrential rain did little to distract Claffey as he powered through the field to claim the gold medal, which was a faster winning time to that of our Irish Olympian, Gary O’Donovan, who won the Men’s Lightweight scull final, Martin O’Grady finishing in fourth position in this closely contested final. Cian Scanlon put in an admirable race but fell short of qualifying for the same final.

The weather was remarkably contrasting on Saturday morning with calm conditions and lengthy spells of sunshine which greeted the Mens' J18 quads for their heats where both Athlone A and B crews were pitched against each other in heat number two.

Athlone A produced a sublime performance winning their heat comfortably; however, despite producing a strong performance the lightweight Athlone B crew of Zach Megan, Harry Lough, Cian Scanlon and Liam Rowan, finished in fourth place outside qualification in a time that would have placed them in the final as this was a quicker time than what was posted in other heat.

A large following of parents, coaches and fellow rowers from Athlone Boat Club gathered to support and cheer on Athlone A Crew, Martin O’Grady, Thomas O’Brien, Donagh Claffey and Cillian Lynum as they led impressively from start to finish claiming the gold medal position in what was a thrilling final.

On Sunday, the sun warmed up the lanes for a blistering J18 Mens' doubles final which provided a fitting stage for the dynamic duo of Martin O’Grady and Donagh Claffey to emphatically win comfortably over second place Skibbereen A, strongly reflecting their international pedigree given their wonderful performances representing Ireland at a global stage at the recent World Junior Rowing Championships.

This pairing had the best time of 24 crews in the J18 men’s doubles time trial which also witnessed a superb performance by Athlone’s B crew of Thomas O’Brien and Cillian Lynum that narrowly missed out on a top six final place by a narrow margin of just two seconds.

The club committee would like to congratulate all crews representing Athlone Boat Club at this annual All-Ireland rowing championship event - notably, all rowers are educated and supported locally at the Marist College, who in the recent years have provided the club with gym equipment and financial donations for which the club is grateful.

A special word of acknowledgement and congratulations from club president, Paul Donovan, to coaches Fergie Hannon, Paul Lynum, Mattie Lough and Alan Kenny, and to the parents of all rowers - the club now have an impressive array of highly sought-after national trophies to adorn the new boat house.

 

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