In London 2012, Sanita Puspure was the only Irish rower representing Team Ireland at the Games. This morning in what is the sign of the times for Irish rowing, Team Ireland had three female crews hoping to secure their places in the semi-finals and final of their respective events.
The Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh were impressive in their heat as they secured automatic qualification to the A final. They become only the second Irish female crew to ever get to an A Final at the Olympic Games. The Irish crew finished second, just 0.23 seconds behind Australia who set a new Olympic best time of 6.28.76.
Australia led from the front, but it was neck and neck between the two boats for the entire race. Ireland found themselves 0.87s behind the Aussie crew of Lucy Stephan, Rosemary Popa, Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre at the half-way mark but the final 500M saw Ireland push hard to close the gap but ultimately run out of water.
It will give the Irish Four huge confidence and belief going into the final. Australia are the current World champions and have been hotly tipped as favourites to win the gold medal. Ireland are the current European silver medallists, finishing just behind the Netherlands a few months ago in Varese. It’s a remarkable rise for this Irish crew who have only been in this combination since March – Emily Hegarty in stroke, Aifric Keogh in bow, Eimear Lambe in 2 and Fiona Murtagh in 3.
In the other heat, the Netherlands had an easier task as they comfortably took first place with a time of 6:33.47 – over 5 seconds ahead of the Chinese crew in second place.
The final for the Women’s Four will take place on Wednesday morning and Ireland will fancy their chances to get on that podium – perhaps even take gold. They finished 0.23 seconds behind Australia in their heat and back at the European Championships in April, they finished 0.55s behind the Netherlands in the final.
In the Pair, Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley will take to the repechage tomorrow after finishing fourth in their heat. Competing against New Zealand, Denmark and Spain, the Killorglin duo missed out on automatic qualification by 0.43s. The pair were in third place for over 1500M but were pipped by the Spanish crew in the final few metres. The Spanish crew cranked things up and were stroking at a rate of 42 with 200M to go. Dukarska and Crowley will go against USA, China and Greece for a place in the semi-final.
In the Lightweight Double, Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen finished fifth in their heat. With the top two automatically qualifying for the semi-finals, the young Irish crew will compete in the repechage tomorrow.
Casey and Cremen were fifth at the halfway mark but weren’t able to close the distance. France won the heat with Italy in second place.
Stay Tuned Later Today For The Following
11:28 Swimming – Ellen Walshe – Women’s 100m Butterfly, Heat 2
13:15 Hockey – Ireland v South Africa – Pool Match