| 14.4°C Dublin

Oar-some test for Michael's

ROWING: Watching the weather reports anxiously are 12 men and women from St Michael's Rowing Club, Dun Laoghaire. Next weekend in Arklow, they will pick up the oars and set off for Aberystwyth in Wales as one of 27 teams in the biennial Celtic Challenge.

At 150km, this relay race is billed as the longest 'true' rowing race in the world. For St Michael's, this will be a second attempt at one of the toughest challenges in sport. Even if the weather is favourable, they will battle sea sickness, blisters and extreme exhaustion as well as the ocean's tides and currents.

In 2010, St Michael's finished first of the wooden boats and they have again opted for a traditional wooden clinker-built east coast skiff.

Depending on the weather, next week's race could start any time, day or night, between Friday and Sunday. The team rotates rowers and the trip is expected to take over 20 hours.

A first timer on the St Michael's crew is Wales-born Gareth Whittington, now living in Dun Laoghaire, who is relishing the prospect of a free ticket home. He said: "I'm told that Welshmen are just Irishmen who couldn't row west to the Promised Land, so I've something to prove!"

VOLLEYBALL: Dublin Volleyball Club (DVC) have the awesome task of stopping the powerful Aer Lingus side in today's Association Cup women's final at UCD. For the past five years, the Alsaa-based club has dominated the women's game and are going for a fourth consecutive league and cup double today. DVC finished second in the league, and although they lost to Aer Lingus in their two league matches, the second match in particular was no walkover. A five-set victory over Santry in the semi-finals has added to the team's confidence and player manager Clodagh Doherty is determined that they will make the most of their first ever appearance in a cup final.

In the men's final, defending champions Ballymun Patriots take on Munster Thunder.

HOCKEY: Defending champions Pegasus take on UCD at Belfield in the key match of today's Irish Senior Cup semi-finals. Pegasus beat Hermes in last year's final for an eighth title in this competition. UCD only narrowly missed out on the Leinster League title, with Railway Union winning on countback. Railway travel north to play Armagh, while the 2010 champions Loreto face Old Alex.

In the men's competition, Railway Union play host to Glennane, the current Leinster champions. Defending champions Lisnagarvey face Pembroke Wanderers.

In a busy period for domestic hockey, the Irish Hockey League finals take place next weekend at Lisnarvey Hockey Club. In Saturday's women's semi-finals, Hermes play Railway Union, while Loreto face Pegasus. YMCA face Monkstown while Cookstown play Lisnagarvey in the men's semi-finals. Finals take place on Sunday (May 6).

TRIATHLON: Mark Nolan from Cork and UK-based Matt Molloy both won their age categories at the European Triathlon Championships in Eilat, Israel.

For Nolan, it was third time lucky in the over-30 age group -- he took world silver in 2010 and European silver last year. His is already the European duathlon champion in this age group. In the over-40 age group, Molloy led from start to finish and now goes in the Ironman Lanzarote on May 19.

Locally, at the Irish Duathlon Championships in Burnfoot, Donegal, Paul Carroll (Olympia Tri) won the men's title catching Mark Morgan (Huub TFN RT), who had led after the cycle stage. Judith Lowrey (Invictus Tri) caught Aoife Lynch (Pulse Tri) on the final 5km run to take her first Irish women's title.

SNOOKER: A thrilling finale to the Dublin Snooker Leagues saw the Drumcondra-based Griffith club taking the title by just three points from Sportslink A. This was a third league title for Griffith, who also had the league individual winner in Thomas Hand. They hope to make it a treble when they face Mountjoy in the cup final.


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