Athlone Boat Club demonstrated great strength of character once again at the recently hosted Irish Rowing Championships in Cork.
Last year, the club were successful in three major junior events, but this year’s rowers brought more gold home to Athlone. This competition was held over two weekends this July with junior and master’s crews first to test their ability and skill against crews from across the island of Ireland. The club entered a massive fleet of boats at many different junior and master’s levels, all of whom performed admirably in their respective events.
Conditions on both weekends were ideal for rowing with low winds, summer sunshine and live commentary by Rowing Ireland officials, which created a great atmosphere at the championship. This competition is the biggest in the calendar of rowing throughout the island and to represent your club at this event is a massive honour.
Junior and Masters Events
The first win for Athlone Boat Club was achieved by the women’s junior 14 coxed quad of Cara Egan, Sophie Reynolds, Ella Colsh, Sarah Hand and Sarah Rockett as they emerged victoriious over Muckross A, C and D, Shandon B and Fermoy A.
At the junior 14 level this season Athlone Boat Club are unbeaten, which is a remarkable achievement. Taking home gold in the women’s junior 15 scull was Anna O’Grady who put on a powerful display of rowing to comfortably win her age category. She beat Nepture, Castleconnell, Carlow, Enniskillien and Skib.
In the junior men’s and women’s 14s sculling event, Richard Heaslip and Ruairi Dolan came second along with Sophie Reynolds and Sarah Rockett. All other athletes who represented the club performed outstandingly well with many great races on the day. The future of junior rowing in Athlone is safe with this great group of boys and girls, the commentary from Rowing Ireland officials being very positive for all Athlone crews. On a side note, the club entered new rowers into the National Championships this year - these consisted of junior boys and girls some who had only taken up the sport not even a year ago at junior 13 and 14 level.
In the masters C category, Alan Kenny won gold, beating Commercial and Newross, Alan defeating both crews by three lengths. This was Alan’s first time to compete in the master’s category at National championship level. Another familiar name to winning for Athlone Boat Club is Paul Gallen, he was in a five boat race which included Keating who beat him to seconnd place in 2018 and Corcoran who also beat him in 2019. Gallen got off to a good start and by the 500 metre mark was in third position. At 600 metres he went through Keating and then the battle was on for first place against Corcoran. In an exciting finish, Gallen caught Corcoran with less than 100 metres to row and took his first single scull win at the National Championship.
A Historical Moment
In what can only be descried as a historical race for the club, the women’s junior 14 8s of Aine Bracken, Sophie Gethins, Ella Lough, Jessie Bloger, Cara Egan (cox ), Sophie Reynolds, Ella Colsh, Sarah Hand and Sarah Rockett achieved gold in the club’s first ever win in a Octuplet Scull. This group of ladies beat Enniskillen, Muckross A, Fermoy and Shandon to record a famous success.
Upon conclusion of the National Championships, Athlone Boat Club captain, Nick Friel, lauded the efforts of all those who competed in the prestigious competition.
“This season all our young athletes showed great commitment, camaraderie and focus on rowing. We are already looking forward to next season and what these young people can achieve will not be beyond them after many great displays and wins this season,” Nick enthused.