Friday 24 November 2017

Irish hopes suffer setback in France

Helen Walshe (pictured) and Lisa Dilleen faced an uphill struggle against New Zealand’s Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson
Helen Walshe (pictured) and Lisa Dilleen faced an uphill struggle against New Zealand’s Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson

Robert Treharne-Jones

Following an upbeat start, Ireland's rowers began to understand the magnitude of their task at the World Championships in France, where reigning champions dominated.

None more so than the women's double sculls where Helen Walshe and Lisa Dilleen faced an uphill struggle against New Zealand's Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson.

With only the leading crew progressing direct to the semis, the pace was furious. Walshe and Dilleen hung on in fourth before slipping back down the field to sixth. They get a second chance to qualify in today's repechages.

It was a similar story for Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll in the lightweight men's pairs, where they needed to finish among the top three to move direct to the semis.

The Italian gold medallists from Lucerne led from start to finish, ahead of the new Spanish crew and the USA, while the Skibbereen/Old Collegians duo finished three seconds off the pace in fourth.

Based on their time they should make it safely through at their next chance which opens today's racing programme.

The para-rowing programme marked a return to international sculling for City of Derry athlete Karol Doherty. His last appearance at this level was the World Championships in 2010, but the prospect of Paralympic qualification has triggered his return.

Australian world champion Erik Horrie dominated the race to qualify, while the repechages beckoned for the rest of the field.

Irish Independent

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