Ireland’s U23 rowers will return home from the European Rowing U23 Championships with their heads held high as they secured one of the finest U23 Championships for Ireland in recent memory. A testament to the hard yards put in by these Irish athletes during a difficult and uncertain lock-down period.
Carlow’s Clíodhna Nolan (NUIG) and Cork’s Lydia Heaphy (UCC) secured a historic gold medal for Ireland in the Lightweight Women’s Pair. After a solid first 500m, the pair began to take the race away from their opponents as they continuously pushed ahead into the lead and could not be caught.
Nolan and Heaphy won gold by a wide margin crossing the finish line in 7:30.83 over 5 seconds ahead of Luisa Simon and Antonia Michaels of Germany in second place.
This marks the best result of both rower’s career to date as last year, Clíodhna Nolan finished fourth alongside Aoife Casey in the Lightweight Women’s Double at the World Under-23 Championships in Florida. At the 2019 World Rowing Cup II, Skibereen’s Heaphy finished 6th in the B final alongside Denise Walsh in the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls event.
Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey brought home silver in the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull. After qualifying for the A-Final with second in the preliminary race the double fought hard to secure their silver medal. Casey and Cremen did their best to keep up with the Italian crew of Giulia Mignemi and Silvia Crosio but the Italians were too strong on this occasion and finished first with a time of 6:58.68.
The Irish crew were comfortably second ahead of the Germans in third as they crossed over in 7:40.49. This isn’t the first success this crew have had together. In 2017, Cremen from Lee Rowing Club and Casey from Skibereen Rowing Club, took silver at the European Rowing Junior Championships in Krefeld in Germany.
The Women’s Pair crew of Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty finished 3rd in the A Final and secured bronze. Last July, the duo were part of the historic crew who became the first Ireland women’s crew in a sweep event to take a medal at a World Championships.
This time around they return home from the European U23 Championships with bronze. It was a battle between Ireland and the Czech Republic for third as the Romanian crew and Greek crew stormed ahead field and were entangled in a battle of their own.
It was neck and neck with Ireland and Czech Republic coming into the final 500m of the course but O’Hanlon and Hegarty had plenty left in the tank as they finished strong to cross the line in third four seconds ahead of their nearest rivals with a time of 7:15.92.
Neptune Rowing Club’s Claire Feerick showed brilliant promise in the early stages of the Women’s Single Sculls final but it wasn’t to be as Greece’s Anneta Kyridou, who is a World Medalist, took control from the half-way mark and won comfortably against a strong field. Germany finished second with Russia in third. Feerick of Ireland finished fourth with a time of 8:00.86.
A hugely successful return for Ireland the European Rowing U23 Championships which saw a record number of 650 competitors entered from 32 nations.
Lightweight Women’s Pair (BLW2-)
Clíodhna Nolan (NUIG)
Lydia Heaphy (UCC)
Women’s Single Scull (BW1x)
Claire Feerick (Neptune)
Women’s Pair (BW2-)
Tara Hanlon (UCC)
Emily Hegarty (UCC)
Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (BLW2x)
Aoife Casey (UCC)
Margaret Cremen (UCC)