Monday 27 January 2020

Cheers and pride at home as women rowers put on brave display in first ever final

Aideen Lambe (right) and her sister Eimear (far left) with their grandparents Noel Lambe and Susan Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath
Aideen Lambe (right) and her sister Eimear (far left) with their grandparents Noel Lambe and Susan Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sinead Jennings’s parents Mick and Teresa and her sister Caitriona watch the final in Letterkenny. Photo: Brian McDaid

Alan O'Keeffe and Greg Harkin

Ireland's women rowers Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings had plenty of passionate support across the country - from Dublin to Donegal.

They were the first Irish women to reach an Olympics rowing final. The pride of their family, friends and supporters was as strong as ever after they were beaten into sixth place in the lightweight double sculls final in Rio yesterday.

Cheers could be heard across the Liffey's waters at Neptune Boat Club in Dublin where friends and supporters of Dubliner Claire watched the live broadcast. They were quick to comfort Claire's sisters Aideen (22) and Eimear (19) at the end of the race.

Claire's grandfather Noel Lambe (88), from Drimnagh, said: "I'm absolutely dumbfounded. For the two of them to get to the Olympic final was a triumph. I'm absolutely proud."

Aideen said: "Claire has given it her all and can have no regrets...I think when the sting goes out of it, she will be so proud of what she has accomplished. We're all so proud."

Claire's sister Eimear added: "They were underdogs so everything has been a plus. To be up there with the fastest in the world is unbelievable."

And it was a roller-coaster of emotions at the crowded Jennings family home at Hawthorn Heights in Letterkenny. Retired Garda Michael Jennings sat alongside his wife Theresa to watch daughter Sinead in action. They were in good company - Sinead's sister Caitriona, who ran the Olympic marathon for Ireland at London 2012, and Danny McDaid, the Donegal runner who ran Olympic marathons for Ireland at the 1972 Munich games and the 1976 Montreal games.

"I am very proud of Sinead," said mum Theresa as the race finished.

"We're immensely proud of both girls.

"And we're delighted for the O'Donovan boys," said dad Michael.

Caitriona too was full of emotion: "We're all very proud."

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