Rowing: Lambe and McCrohan fall just short
Ireland's young rowing hopefuls must have come away from the first World Cup regatta of the season in Slovenia with an air of quiet satisfaction.
Not only did the event provide much-needed experience at senior level for the group of mainly U-23 athletes, but for the leading lightweight women's double, in particular, it offered a window into another world.
Dublin-based Claire Lambe (19), from UCD, and her sculling partner Siobhan McCrohan (22), from Galway, were always tipped to put on the best show of the three Irish women's crews on Lake Bled.
However, when they won their heat on Friday and followed it up with a storming performance in Saturday's semis, they became the first Irish women's double to reach a World Cup final for four years.
Ireland High Performance Director Martin McElroy had urged caution in advance of yesterday's final, when Lambe and McCrohan finally met their match.
In a race won by the USA, the Irish crew briefly held on to fifth place ahead of Great Britain's Steph Cullen and Andrea Dennis, before slipping back to finish sixth.
Cathal Moynihan was returning to international-class rowing for the first time since the 2008 Olympic final, but the Muckross lightweight suffered a lacklustre semi-final to finish ninth overall in the single scull.
Ireland's adaptive rowers were also on the water in Slovenia as part of their preparation for the Paralympics in 2012.
The new line-up in the mixed coxed four included Shane Ryan, Kevin du Toit, Sarah Caffrey, and cox Laura Purdy, with Karen Cromie stepping into the bow seat in place of Emer Patten.
In Saturday's final the British crew took the gold medal, followed by Germany and Ukraine, with Ireland finishing a creditable fourth.