Reigning senior eight national rowing champions NUIG will be hoping to make it three straight wins for the blue riband trophy this afternoon at the Irish Rowing Championships.

This year the successful NUIG crew, who won the senior eight in 2009 and 2010, have teamed up with Gráinne Mhaol to form a composite crew, but will face a strong challenge from UCD and Queen’s.

Queens University, runners up two years in-a-row by mere seconds, will feel that this must be their year, while UCD set down a marker when they beat NUIG/Gráinne Mhaol in the men’s senior four on the first day of the championships.

With four strong competing crews the line-up is completed by young emerging rowers from Trinity College.

In the single sculls, 17-year-old Paul O’Donovan of Skibbereen is aiming to become one of the youngest ever winners of the title.

O’Donovan will have to fight off strong challenges from Muckross sculler Sean Casey and John Keohane from Lee Valley, Cork.

Just two weeks ago, Keohane beat O’Donovan into second place at the Cork city regatta.