The St. Michael’s junior rowers prepared for the National Rowing championships this weekend, with a total of 11 wins from a possible 15 at the 134th Fermoy Regatta last weekend.
The sprint format of the regatta, being just under 500 metres in length, left little room for error and provided spectators with some very tight racing, with events being won or lost in the blink of an eye.
Many of the SMRC competitors arrived just in time to see Fionn McDonnell take the win in one of the first few races of the day: The Men’s Junior 12 Single, setting the tone with many of his clubmates hoping to emulate Fionn’s success in their own races later in the day. Unfortunately, the Junior 18 Men’s Scullers Ronan O’Gorman and Liam O’Reilly had no joy in what was a highly competitive category.
Next in action were the two Men’s Junior 15 Doubles, who won each of their respective straight finals, who made good use of the confidence they gained in winning early on in the day and replicated their performance in the Men’s Junior 15 Quad, where they also took a win. The Men’s Junior 14 Quad were unsuccessful in their medal hunt. The recipients of an unlucky draw, which can often happen in the straight-final events of Junior 14 and 15. The Women’s Junior 16 Double narrowly missed on some silverware in their event also, making them determined to overturn their result in later races.
Next it was the girls’ turn to add to the medal tally where the Women’s Junior 16 Eight took the win in a very tight race which was almost a photo finish. This was followed quickly by the Women’s Junior 16 quad to further increase the number of St. Michael’s athletes who made appearances on the podium.
The following wins came in quick succession, involving an amount of very fast turnarounds where athletes would have to step out of one boat at the slipway, only to step straight into another, which is further testament to the fitness of these young rowers. First off saw a dead heat between the St. Michael’s Junior 16 eight and the hosts, Fermoy, result in a re-row where St. Michael’s got the better of their opponents by half a boat length. Many of the athletes in that eight also competed in the Men’s Junior 15 eight, and Men’s Junior 16 Four, which saw them again drawn against the locals, who again conceded their home stretch of river to the visitors from SMRC.
The Men’s Club 2 Coxed four were also crowned winners of their category when an equipment failure forced local rivals Athlunkard to withdraw from the race. A re-row was offered by the crew, eager to put themselves to the test rather than win by default, but unfortunately, the schedule would not allow it, due to the earlier unanticipated re-row between the Junior 16 Eights. Rounding off the wins were the Women’s Junior 15 Double who came out on top of an all-Limerick derby between them and Shannon. Both of the Men’s Club 2 Doubles made the final in their category but were beaten by Irish rowing powerhouse Skibbereen at the end of a long day of racing.
The focus now turns to the Irish Rowing Championships which will hopefully bring more success to St. Michael’s at the end of a long season before a well-deserved rest in advance of a long Winter’s training.