Ireland had two crews competing at the 2020 European Rowing Junior Championships in Belgrade in September with over 425 competitors from 27 countries entering the Regatta. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this was just the second international event held this season, following the European Under 23 Championships held in Germany earlier in September where the 8 Irish crews entered did so well returning with 5 medals.
The Junior Men’s Quad of Tom Kelly from Kenmare Rowing and Boating Club, Andrew Sheehan (Lee Rowing Club), Adam Murphy (Shandon Boat Club) and Brian Colsh (Sligo Rowing Club) finished second and secured their silver medal in a fiercely competitive final where the Russian crew won the gold. 17 countries fought for medals in this event, the second fastest boat class of the Regatta.
The Junior Men’s Quad raced the 2 kilometer course 4 times in less than 36 hours. In their first heat on Saturday morning they finished in 3rd place with Russia crossing the line first, a last minute surge from Poland saw them inch ahead of Ireland, so the Irish crew had to race again in the repechage later that afternoon which they won well, securing their place in the semifinals on Sunday morning. They finished 2nd in their semifinal ahead of the Polish crew but finished behind the Czech boat. Having clocked the fastest time in the heats, Czech Republic went into the final race as the favourites. There was just a canvas separating the top three crews at 1000m with Czech Republic leading Russia and Ireland in third position. The Irish crew made a strong push in the third quarter of the race, with Russia having to respond and gained half a length on Czech Republic. The final sprint from Russia just paid off as they rowed through to take gold, in 6 mins 11secs with the Irish crew just 2 seconds behind followed by Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Switzerland. worldrowing.com streamed the races so they can be seen there. No spectators were allowed at the event due to current restrictions.
Tom Kelly has rowed with KRBC since 2016 and has been coached by the legend Noel Casey. Noel got involved and Olympic Rowing started in Kenmare out of a casual meeting with Danny Sullivan who was interested in getting his daughter into the sport and asked if Noel could arrange a sculling boat for her. Dan then recruited a few more of her school mates and a small group started sculling.
In 2016 Georgia O’Brien represented Ireland in the Home International Regatta in Cardiff and came away with the silver medal. This created great interest in the sport locally and many scullers were encouraged to step up to International level training. At various rowing trials Tom, Georgia and Eimear Crowley showed great promise and as a result Georgia was selected and won the at Coupe De La Jeunesse in 2017 in Belgium. This is a top European event of fourteen countries. The Coupe was held in Ireland in 2018. Tom and Eimear were selected to row, and Georgia was selected in the Quad where she won Gold again. This raised the bar in the training program in preparation for the 2019 season, which paid off as Tom brought home the Gold in the Junior Championships Single Scull and Georgia won the Senior Single Scull Championship. Tom went on to represent Ireland in the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Italy settling for fourth, in the Junior Men’s Quad of Andrew Sheehan Lee RC, Finn O’ Reilly Skibbereen RC and Rory O’ Neill Castleconnel RC.
Tom has by now become a regular in the Irish Junior Squad of 2019 – 2020 and took part in all the Trials at the National Rowing Centre, Inniscarra for Rowing Ireland. Covid then interrupted the training, so from March onwards the athletes were forced to train from home during lockdown. However they coped and the result was a Silver Medal at the European Junior Championships.
Kenmare Rowing and Boating Club has now had great success at local, national and international level but without the determination of the rowers, the knowledge of the coaches and the support of members, families and those who love rowing this could not happen. We thank you all for your continued support.
Kenmare Rowing and Boating Club.