O'Donovans in medals on day of glory for Skibb
The O'Donovan brothers hung on for a bronze medal at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne yesterday as Skibbereen clubmates Shane O'Driscoll and Mark O'Donovan made it four golds in a row in the lightweight pair.
The Olympian brothers had a high-pressure weekend in the lightweight men's double as Rio champions Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou dominated the competition from start to finish.
While the O'Donovans struggled to reach Saturday's semi-final, the French duo won their heat with ease, and cruised across the line in their semi-final to earn the favoured centre lane for yesterday's final.
In predictable fashion, the French stormed off the blocks, with Italy hard on their heels and Ireland languishing in fourth position behind Belgium.
With 750m gone, the French upped the rate to 41 and Ireland faced a 4.5-second deficit at the halfway mark.
As the second half opened up, a push from the O'Donovans brought them into the bronze medal position and that's the way it stayed as France led the field by clear water to take gold ahead of Italy.
"That was the hardest race to date" said Paul O'Donovan. "We were a bit disappointed but we had four races this weekend, so we got to stretch our legs a bit.
"We have some ground to make up on the French so we'll go back with our coach and talk about that before thinking about the World Championships in Florida."
It was a different story for Mark O'Donovan and O'Driscoll in the lightweight men's pair.
Their British arch-rivals Sam Scrimgeour and Joel Cassells led to the halfway mark before the European champions tuned on the heat to row the fastest third split of the race and haul themselves into the lead.
The GB men faded out of the picture, while the new Russian combination of Nikita Bolozin and Aleksei Kiiashko came right through the pack to take silver, with Brazil hanging on for third.