Casey and Cremen set sights on final berth
Coach Dan Buckley was matter-of-fact when explaining why Ireland has only one crew at the World Junior Rowing Championships in Lithuania.
"It's the only crew we've got that we think is fast enough," he said.
On Wednesday, Aoife Casey of Skibbereen and Margaret Cremen of Lee made sure of direct qualification for today's quarter-finals of the double sculls, earning themselves a well-earned break yesterday.
Casey - daughter of senior Ireland coach Dominic - is a veteran of last year's championships in Rotterdam where she and her partner Emily Hegarty finished in 12th place.
Her mother Eleanor, their coach for that event, said both athletes had learned from the opportunity.
"It's all part of a learning curve, a stepping stone. It was great to have the opportunity to come alongside the bigger team, because the regatta combined the U-23s in one event," she said.
"Since then they've both had the appetite to have a goal together and train harder."
Hegarty has now moved into the U-23 group, so Casey's new partnership with Cremen was formed just one month before the European Junior Championships, held in Germany in May.
They came away with a silver medal, behind Germany, but Buckley knows the competition will be tough this week.
He glanced across the giant Canadian girls, both 6ft tall, who won their heat in style and are one of the favourites for gold.
Casey goes to school in Skibbereen which, thanks to Paul and Gary O'Donovan, has now taken on the mantle of the powerhouse of rowing in Ireland. Cremen goes to school nearer her home in Cork, which means that training sessions together are confined to the weekends at Inniscarra.
Training separately puts them at a disadvantage against other crews who can spend more time together.
"We saw a little bit at the Europeans, but really this is a blank sheet," said Buckley. "It will be our goal if we make the A final - that's the project for Ireland this week."