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Irish crews win three heats at World Rowing Championships

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Ireland's Konan Pazzaia (bow) and Philip Doyle (stroke) compete in Men's Double Sculls qualifications during the World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic yesterday. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

Ireland's Konan Pazzaia (bow) and Philip Doyle (stroke) compete in Men's Double Sculls qualifications during the World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic yesterday. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

Ireland's Konan Pazzaia (bow) and Philip Doyle (stroke) compete in Men's Double Sculls qualifications during the World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic yesterday. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

Three heat wins in quick succession and a gutsy – and successful – performance by the young Ireland men’s four lifted Irish hearts at the World Rowing Championships in Racice in the Czech Republic.

The Ireland lightweight double of Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey had the toughest of tests in their heat. Just one crew would go through to the semi-finals, and the Irish faced Olympic champions Italy.

In Tokyo, seven places separated the crews. But in the year since, Ireland have been improving – as the Italians were to learn. Cremen and Casey got a fine start and built it into a lead of over one and a half seconds by 500 metres. The Italians never got back on terms – and faded to third behind Germany at the very end of the race.

Sanita Puspure and Zoe Hyde were similarly impressive in their win in the openweight double. An excellent second quarter saw them with a clearwater lead at halfway and there was no doubt from there which crew would win. Puspure’s old sparring partner in the single, Magadalena Lobnig and her sister Katharina finished very well to take the second semi-final place available.

The women’s four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty are the re-formed crew which took bronze at the Olympic Games. They looked Ireland’s best bet for a heat win – but it was not easy. Romania got off well from the start and had marginal leads on Ireland at the 500 and 1000 metres marks. But at 1330 metres Ireland edged past them and went on to win.

The debutant Ireland men’s four grabbed their own bit of glory by taking second place in a heat in which two boats qualified. They stayed right up with Britain to half way, then held off Ukraine’s challenge in the second half as Britain moved away to win.

The Ireland crew is made up of two 21-year-olds – bowman, Jack Dorney, and stroke, John Kearney – a 22-year-old (Nathan Timoney) and a 23-year-old, Ross Corrigan.

Earlier, the Ireland pair of Natalie Long and Tara Hanlon rowed well to finish second behind New Zealand and book their place in the semi-final.

The first Ireland crew in action was the PR2 single scull of Katie O’Brien. In her preliminary race she took second.

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