Despite another blistering finish the O'Donovan brothers had to settle for silver yesterday at the European Championships in Glasgow.
Gary and Paul O'Donovan knew they had a fight on their hands in the lightweight double sculls when Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli, the former world champions from Norway, posted a time in Saturday's semi-finals that was two seconds faster than theirs.
The Skibbereen duo rated 53 off the start in yesterday's final, but it was the Italians, Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta who were first to the 500m, with Ireland more than two seconds off the pace in fourth.
The Norwegians struck their killer blow in the second quarter, moving to the head of the field, while Ireland overhauled Belgium for third place and began to reel in the leaders.
The Olympic silver medallists powered past the Italians approaching 1500m but with Norway so far ahead they had a mountain to climb.
Despite pushing the rate up to 44 approaching the line they could not deny Brun and Strandli the gold, while Oppo and Ruta held on for bronze.
"It was a tough old race. I suppose we gave it a good go," said Gary O'Donovan.
"I don't think we left ourselves too much to do. We caught up on the Italians and we gained a lot on the Norwegians. I think they were just a bit fitter and stronger today.
"We're feeling pretty sh****d now but we'll recover in time. We gave it a good old go; the Norwegians were just too quick.
"We planned to keep within touching distance of them within the first 500m. The plan then was to move through towards the kilometre mark. We gained a lot on the Norwegians but they were just a bit fitter and stronger today."
Paul added: "I'm a little but disappointed with silver but we know the Norwegians are pretty good. The main focus for the year now will be the World Championships.
"There's a lot to do over the next few weeks but that will provide some motivation at least."
Racing in the 'B' final of the lightweight women's double sculls Aoife Casey and Denise Walsh finished second behind Leonie Pless and Katrin Thoma of Germany - a remarkable result in their first international regatta together.
On Saturday lightweight world champions Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll faced their own 'B' final of the men's pairs against much heavier athletes, with predictable results.
The demise of lightweight sweep rowing from the Olympic programme has forced O'Donovan and O'Driscoll to move up to the heavyweight category if they are to achieve their Olympic ambitions.
They finished fifth to place 11th overall in the competition.
One notable absentee from Glasgow was single sculler Sanita Puspure, who finished second to world champion Jeannine Gmelin three weeks ago in Switzerland.
"The gap between Lucerne and the Europeans was very short, and tapering for both competitions was going to be difficult" said Puspure. "The coaches gave me the choice of whether to go, but I decided not to."
Next week Ireland's rowers leave for training camps in Spain and Italy as part of their final preparation for the World Championships, to be held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in five weeks' time.