Eight gold medals were won by Galway Rowing Club at the recent Irish National Rowing Championships in Cork at the weekend.
The first win was achieved by the men’s J16 eight, who went into the championship with high hopes after a successful season. It proved a thrilling event with two Galway clubs fighting it out to the finish. By the 1000 metre mark St Joseph’s College, Galway (the Bish ) was the only crew challenging Galway and only one-quarter of a length separated the two. However Galway opened up a one-length lead by the 1500 mark which they extended to the finish line to give the crew of cox Ross Madden, stroke Nathan Collins, Alan Murtagh, David Laffey, Martin Laffey, Michael Flaherty, Chris Laffey, Gary Cooney and Conor Curran, the first gold for the Galway club.
The secong gold was produced in the women’s J14 sculls in which Claire Caulfield headed the field that also included Galway’s Tara Diviney.
The female rowers contiued their good form with the women’s J16 coxed fours of cox Afric O’Regan, Fiona Murtagh, Kellie Wade, Femhe Caffrey and Claire Elwood enjoying a convincing win by two lengths over a strong Commercial crew. Megan Donnelly, in the J15 singles scull, blew the field away to grab another gold for the club, and, fresh from this victory, Donnelly went on to stroke the WJ15 quad with Anna Monaghan, Meab O’Brien, Ruth Cummins and Claire Caulfield, and the girls enjoyed an easy win.
Three more golds were added the following day. Despite the rough conditions, the women’s novice eight enjoyed a strong start in their event and went on to claim victory by three lengths. This was a fine achievement by the young crew of cox Afric O Regan, stroke Fiona Murtagh, Meagan Donnelly, Cara Cunningham, Kellie Wade, Meabh O’Brien, Ruth Cummins, Femhe Caffrey and Claire Elwood.
Boosted by this victory the crew went out to row the final of the WJ16 8+ hoping to go one better than last year’s second place to Portora. A blistering start ensured they led by a length at the halfway mark and they too crossed the finish line with a three-length lead.
The eighth gold was won by the men’s J16 quad. Once again it proved a battle between two Galway crews. Tribesmen had the edge with 500 metres to go, but over the final 300m the Galway crew made a unbelievable push to row through their opponents to win by one length.
In other events the women’s novice four also turned into a derby battle with NUIG looking for the honours over a strong field that included Queen’s University, Garda, Shannon, and Galway. By the 1000 metre mark NUIG led Galway by one and a half lengths. Although Galway clawed the college crew back as they neared the finish line, NUIG held out with the last few strokes to take the gold with the Galway crew of cox Afric O’Regan, stroke Fionna Murtagh, Kellie Wade, Cara Cunningham and Ruth Cummins only one second behind.
The men’s novice eight of cox Ross Madden, Nathan Collins, Alan Murtagh, David Laffey, Martin Laffey, Shane Walsh, Chris Laffey, Gary Cooney and Conor Curran finished third behind Trinity and UCD, while the men’s J14 quad of Fionn O’Higgins cox, stroke Harry Coonan, Daragh Duffy, Shane Pagden, and Ciaran McNamara came in a strong second, losing out by just four feet to Clonmel - a great achievement for the crew in their first major championship.
The women’s J14 4x+ of cox Victoria Molloy, stroke Claire Caulfield, Kellie Ann Folan, Tara Diviney, and Ruth Elwood had a close battle with Lee, but the Cork outfit won out by half a length. The men’s Master 4+ of Malcolm Hosty, Kevin Garvey, Tom Elwood, Sean Heaney and cox Afric O’Regan had a tough race against a Commercal/Belfast composite crew who were the eventual winners, while the two men’s Senior 2- crew, Niall Hogan and Paul O’Brien, and Danny O’Dowd and Richard Hardy, were out-classed by the winners St Michael’s.
Galway’s success at the championships was followed by Fiona Murtagh and Kellie Wade who were part of the victorious Irish four at the Home Internationals. They also finished second in the eight.