Ireland's medal hopes increase after reaching the final in style
The Irish men's coxed four have a medal in their sights at the World Junior Rowing Championships in Tokyo, where the women's double scull also qualified for the semi-finals in yesterday's racing.
The four have been together since they won silver at the European Junior Championships three months ago in Essen, Germany.
That consistency brought dividends in yesterday's heat where they finished second behind China to qualify for the final.
The expected challenge from the USA, who were boasting two of last year's silver medallists, never materialised as China made the early running, with Ireland just 1.75 seconds adrift at the halfway mark.
James O'Donovan of Castleconnell, Matthew Gallagher of St Josephs, Shandon's Jack Dorney and John Kearney of Cork, with their cox, Leah O'Regan, kept snapping at the heels of China, and a finishing burn within the last 250m saw them close the gap to just 0.16 seconds at the line.
"The plan was to try and make the A final, so they have taken a lot of confidence from that. We now need to reassess and get ready for the final," said their coach, Fran Keane.
Rhiannon O'Donoghue and Molly Curry won their repechage of the women's doubles after hunting down the Hungarians, Boroka Elek and Flora Galcso.
O'Donoghue and Curry reduced Hungary's one-length lead at halfway to a three-quarter length at 1,500m before overhauling them for first place with 250m to go.
They needn't have worried - Hungary's boat was later declared underweight after the Tokyo heat caused significant evaporation of the water content in the hull, and they were thereby relegated to last place, allowing third-placed South Africa to qualify behind Ireland.
"It was another solid performance to try and win the race and that's exactly what they did," said Rowing Ireland coach John Armstrong.
"We now need to focus on the semi-final on Saturday and that's what we plan to do - just one race at a time," he added.