Dominant Puspure leads Irish charge
With seven crews in the semi-finals at the World Rowing Championships in Austria, Ireland's rowers have already surpassed their previous best performance, but any celebration would be premature as the team look forward to four more days of hard work.
Yesterday's racing kicked off with a solid performance from Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska in the women's pair, where they ran Australia's Jessica Morisson and Annabelle McIntyre a close second all the way down the 2,000m course.
The Australians proved untouchable, but a final burn at 41 strokes a minute saw Crowley and Dukarska home.
Next up were the new-look lightweight men's double of Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan, who came from behind to take victory in their quarter-final.
Gary O'Donovan, ousted from his seat in the double alongside his brother, has been making waves in the lightweight single scull, where a blistering finish saw him move from fifth to third inside the final 500m and qualify for the semi-final behind Canada and Australia.
In the men's double scull, Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne lined up alongside several world medallists, but refused to be cowed. The Irish pair overhauled early pace-setters Germany to finish second behind the Polish boat.
The icing on the cake came with a win for world champion Sanita Puspure, who sculled her own race to lead 2012 Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova by a massive 15 secs on the line.
"This is by far and away Ireland's best ever world championships in an Olympic qualification year, but the job isn't done yet," said Neville Maxwell, chairman of Rowing Ireland's high performance committee.