It’s been a busy few weeks for the oarsmen and oarswomen in St. Michael’s Rowing Club, having competed at two international regattas in as many weekends, first the National School’s Regatta, the largest junior regatta in the UK, followed then by London Metropolitan Regatta the weekend after, both taking place at Dorney Lake, Eton. The club also tasted success on the domestic regatta circuit in Ireland, with many of the younger crews taking home silverware from Carlow Regatta the day.
A squad of over twenty junior athletes travelled to London to go toe-to-toe with some of the best crews that UK schools rowing had to offer, putting in a host of impressive performances. In particular, the Junior Women’s Coxless Four of Éabha Benson, Ellen Murphy, Chris Kirwan and Megan O’Byrne took second place in the Championship Girl’s Coxless Four event among a tightly contested field. Ryan Spelman also rowed well to take 5th place in the A-final of the Championship Single, arguably one of the most competitive events of the regatta.
The Junior Women’s Eight won the B-final of the Championship Girl’s Eight well, putting plenty of distance between them and the rest of the field, eager to make a statement after narrowly missing out on the A-final. The Junior 16 Men’s Coxed Four of Diarmuid Hartney, Paul McInerney, Donnachadh DeBrún and David Foley-Kiely, coxed by Caireann-Rose O’Gorman also put in a very commendable effort in their A-final, only missing out on the podium by just over half a second.
The same crew competed in the Junior 16 Men’s Coxless Quad event and took 4 th place in the B-final, going head-to-head with the Tideway Scullers School B crew right down to the line, only a quarter of a second separating the two crews. The Junior Women’s Pair of Kate Storan and Elisa McInerney also finished well to take fourth place in their B-final of the Championship Girl’s Coxless Pairs, an impressive performance from the young pair.
The following weekend saw the Intermediate Men’s Squad make the same journey to Dorney Lake to take on a host of competitive club and university crews, many of whom were preparing for Henley Royal Regatta in little over a month’s time. The first race for St. Michael’s saw the Men’s Coxless four of Jonny Cuddy, Ryan Spelman, Tom McKeon and Declan O’Connor compete in the Championship Coxless fours event. Despite a massive effort from the crew, they narrowly missed out on a spot in the final. Eager to overturn the defeat, the crew produced two stellar races to take the win in the Tier 2 Coxless Fours, nine seconds the distance between them and the next crew.
The following day saw brothers Ben and Tom McKeon take to the water in the Men’s Tier 2 Coxless Pair. Despite an impressive sprint finish, the pair missed out on the medals, being beaten by a pair from Cork Boat Club. The duo of Declan O’Connor and Ryan Spelman put in a highly polished performance in the Men’s Championship Double, finishing second to a crew who represented Zimbabwe in a World Cup Regatta last month who were entered controversially in the event at the last minute.
Jonny Cuddy and Ryan Spelman competed in the Championship Men’s Coxless Pairs. Following a very impressive start, they were bested by a crew from Oxford Brookes University in a two-horse race from beginning to end. Declan O’Connor then competed in the Men’s Championship Single, unfortunately missing out on a spot in the final, owing primarily to increasingly challenging conditions and fatigue from a host of tight races earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, at home many of the younger crews took part in Carlow Regatta, a challenging, windy course in Carlow Town, yet putting in a number of performances to be proud of, in particular the J15 Women’s Coxed Quads, the J15 Men’s Coxed Quad as well as the Men’s and Women’s J15 Doubles.
No doubt many more medal winning races were in store before the weather unfortunately turned, bringing the regatta to a premature end.
The club now turns its focus to Cork Regatta in just over two weeks’ time, one more chance to test the crews before the National Championships in mid-July as well as a chance for some athletes to trial for the honour of representing Ireland at the Home International Regatta, also taking place in July. Given the recent run of form, there will no doubt be several more medal-winning performances from St. Michael’s crews young and old before the season is out. Well rowed Saint Micks!