The Irish men's heavyweight four (M4-) of Cormac Folan (NUIG), Sean O'Neill (Central RPC, New Zealand), Sean Casey (Muckross), and Alan Martin (NUIG) rowed brilliantly to win today's thrilling B final over Canada and World Cup silver medallists New Zealand at the Rowing World Championships in Eton, and claim seventh place overall.
The result demonstrates the tremendous improvement the four have made since last year's worlds when they finished tenth, in what was only their first season on the senior international stage.
'We knew they were beatable based on our races throughout the season,' remarked a beaming Alan Martin after the race. 'We knew if we rowed as best as we could we had a chance, and we did that. The water is rough and with conditions like that it's very easy to make a mistake; we handled the weather well and we're just really pleased with our race.'
The quartet can look to their mid-race pace as the secret of their success today; they were fastest of all six boats over the middle 1000metres which stood to them as the line approached.
Canada set the pace leading at the halfway point from the Irish four, with the Kiwi crew occupying third. At the 1250 metre mark the Irish boat drew level with the Canadians and with 500 metres to go the Irish were leading. Despite immense challenges from the Canadian and New Zealand crews the Irish four held on impressively to cross the line first.
Crucially, the result keeps the target of Olympic qualification at next year's World Championships very much on track; the top eleven boats at next year's event qualify for Beijing 2008 as Ireland's stroke Alan Martin pointed to: 'We knew it was within us so it's just very satisfying to do it. It sets us up nicely for the next two years to Beijing. It'll give us good confidence through the winter.'
The Irish men's lightweight four (LM4-) of Gearoid Towey (Fermoy), Eugene Coakley (Skibbereen), Richard Archibald (Lady Victoria BC), and Paul Griffin (Muckross) take on the elite of international rowing in Sunday afternoon's World Championship final at 2.15pm.
The women's lightweight double of Sinéad Jennings and Niamh NiCheilleachair contest the B final of their event at 10.17am on Sunday morning.