Monday 10 December 2018

Women's pair make history with victory

Emily Hegarty, left, and Aifric Keogh of Ireland following their first place finish in their Women's Pair semi-final race on day five of the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Emily Hegarty, left, and Aifric Keogh of Ireland following their first place finish in their Women's Pair semi-final race on day five of the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Robert Treharne-Jones

History was made yesterday in Bulgaria when Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty became the first Irish women's pair to qualify for a world championship final.

And when the O'Donovan brothers Paul and Gary then placed third in their lightweight doubles semi-final, it meant that Rowing Ireland had qualified for three medal finals, including the lightweight quad, with the chance of more to come.

Spain and Great Britain made the early running in the women's pairs, with Ireland back in fifth place and that was the way it stayed until Keogh and Hegarty threw everything at the last 500m.

The GB crew ran out of steam and Ireland crossed the line to qualify ahead of Italy and Spain.

"It seemed to take everyone by surprise, including ourselves," said Keogh afterwards.

"It's my first senior worlds, and way beyond what I expected," added Hegarty.

Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul O'Donovan had a tough semi-final, ranking fourth until the halfway mark, just as they did in Wednesday's previous round. But this time there was no steady trawl back through the field and the Skibbereen men had to dig deep to overhaul Poland for third behind Italy and Belgium.

Earlier in the day, Ronan Byrne of UCC and Philip Doyle of Queen's put in a stunning performance in their repechage of the men's double sculls, leading off the blocks and establishing a three-second lead which they never let go of.

Bulgaria's Boris Yotov and Kristian Vasilev came through to take second place after the first 500m, but despite sculling the fastest final split, they could not prevent Ireland's victory.

"Our strength is our start - something just sort of clicked and it came out really well for us" said Doyle afterwards.

On the strength of their win the two men have now drawn a favoured lane for today's semi-final, where Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont of Great Britain are favourites.

Today also sees Old Collegians sculler Sanita Puspure race for a place in the final where Canada's Carling Zeeman and Germany's Annekatrin Thiele will provide the stiffest opposition.

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