The National Rowing Championships – The final regatta of the domestic season, saw St. Michael’s come away with a number of impressive performances, the young rowers finally able to show their months of hard work at the end of their oars.
The youngest competitor to come away with silverware was Michael Spooner, who carried on his form from Cork Regatta only a few weeks ago and won his final in the Men’s Junior 14 Single, showing great promise for the future.
Another impressive performance came from the Junior Women’s eight who managed to earn themselves a bronze medal for their efforts. Eager to put the disappointment of the Junior Women’s Four behind them, the girls showed firm resolve as they held off a desperate last-ditch charge from Commercial Rowing Club to hold onto their place on the podium.
However, the standout performance of the weekend came from Ryan Spelman who brought the Junior Men’s Single Championship of Ireland back to St. Michael’s for the first time in four years. Ryan held off some of the household names in Junior Men’s sculling, some of whom will be representing Ireland at the Junior World Championships next month. But his never-say-die attitude, firm self-belief and diligence in both training and racing saw Ryan lead from the start and emerge victorious in what was a hotly contested field.
For most, the next few weeks will be a vital source of rest and recuperation in order to prepare for the new season starting in September but some rowers face an extended season for the next few weeks as they have been given the honour of rowing for their country at the end of a long and often frustrating season.
It was a season that saw the cancellation of several trials and regattas owing to the weather, including the Irish Open, an open trial where Irish rowing hopefuls aim to make their mark early on in the season, meaning that the SMRC aspirants were blind to the form of their rivals.
However, this did not unduly worry them, each showing vast improvement and confidence with each erg test and water trial, culminating in opportunity to compete at the highest level.
For Chris Kirwan and Sheila Clavin, their call up will be to compete in green at the Home International Regatta, held at the National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra, is a one day team event between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales where the winner of each race is awarded a number of points, the nation with the highest number of points at the end of the regatta is then awarded the Victor Ludorum trophy.
This will be Chris’ first time representing Ireland, and not yet being in her final year of junior rowing, she can easily use this experience to her advantage and give her a competitive edge for the coming season. For Sheila, a participant in several Home International events and a competitor in World Cup Regattas in previous years, she will hope to make best use of her vast experience to play her part for the Irish team. Also, for the first time in four years, the regatta takes place in Ireland, which will provide the Irish crews with a vital home water advantage.
For Ellen Murphy and Ryan Spelman, who will be competing at the Coupe de la Jeunesse (commonly referred to as the Coupe for short) in the Women’s Four and Men’s Quad respectively, also being held at the National Rowing Centre, again the familiarity providing them with a leg up on some of the best crews Europe has to offer.
Like the Home Internationals, the Coupe is also a team event, with points being awarded based on placing within each race, with the highest scoring nation winning the regatta overall. This event has been dominated by Great Britain in previous year, but Ryan and Ellen will be hoping to make their mark and cause some upsets, especially in front of a home crowd.
The next few days and weeks will prove crucial for each of the Irish crews as they strive to find any last minute speed that could prove crucial in their International endeavours. We have no doubt that all four will do their club and country proud. Best of luck Saints!