Wednesday 21 February 2018

The O'Donovan's pipped by France once again but are through to European Championship final

Paul O'Donovan and Gary O'Donovan
Paul O'Donovan and Gary O'Donovan

The O'Donovan brothers have qualified comfortably for the final of the European Championship lightweight double sculls.

Paul and Gary finished second in their semi-final behind France - who they lost out to in the Rio Olympics final - today with Germany finishing third to book a place in tomorrow's final.

The Cork brothers got off to their customary slow start, propping up the six-boat field for the initial few hundred metres before finishing strongly.

Ireland's Olympic heroes, the reigning European champions, still have some way to go to regain the sort of form which earned them a silver medal at the Lagoa Stadium in Rio last summer.

In their opening heat yesterday they needed to be first across the line to claim a direct place in the semi. But while the Russians, Anton Kuranov and Nazar Lifshitc, made the early running the Skibbereen men trailed back in third place. As the second half opened up the Polish double, Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski, came through the field to take first place in the fastest qualifying time in the event, six seconds clear of Ireland.

Three hours later the brothers had their second chance in the repechages, and this time they made no mistake.

As the veteran Portuguese double, Pedro Fraga and Nuno Mendes, front-loaded their race to lead at half way, the O'Donovans used the third quarter to good effect, storming through the opposition and crossing the line to qualify along with second-placed Ukraine.

The extra race yesterday did not hinder the O'Donovans today and they looked comfortable to finish behind Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin of France.

Ireland's Denise Walsh also qualified for the final of the European Championship lightweight women's single sculls following a second place finish in the semi-finals in the Czech Republic today.

Skibbereen's Walsh is looking to go one better than the silver medal she won at the World Cup regatta three weeks ago in Belgrade and she came home just three seconds behind Switzerland this morning to book a place in tomorrow's final.

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