Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul O'Donovan have qualified for the semi-final of the lightweight men's double sculls at the European Rowing Championships

The Irish brothers had to do it the hard way however, coming through the repechage after they missed out on automatic qualification in their morning heat.

The Cork pair surprisingly missed out on qualifying in their heat, finishing over six seconds behind Polish crew Milosz Jankowski and Jerzy Kowalski, who won in 6:25.930.

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The O'Donovan's were still able to progress, winning the repechage race, beating the Ukraine into second place with Portugal claiming third. The Irish boat was still someway off the pace of the morning heat however, finishing in a time of 6:34.330.

It was a slow start for the O’Donovans who were third at the 500m mark, nearly 2.5 seconds behind leaders Portugal.

However they made up ground by the 1,000m point, cutting the deficit to 0.9 of a second, before hitting the front by 1500m, moving nearly two seconds ahead of Ukraine as Portugal started to fade. 

The Irish pair held extended their lead further by the end, finishing 2.18 seconds ahead of Ukraine who also qualified in second place.

Afterwards Gary declared himself pleased with the day's work. Speaking about the heat he said: "We came second to Poland and in fairness they're good. They came sixth in Rio and they beat us to the bronze medal in the World Cup three weeks ago.

"We came second and had to go through the rep' and we took it on and won it. We're into the semi-final now so that's no problem."

Paul meanwhile is not concerned about the prospect of having three races in two days as they go into tomorrow's semi-final.

"We're not as fit as we probably should be but we're not doing too bad. You recover quickly so we should be fine by tomorrow."

Elsewhere Denise Walsh won her lightweight women's single sculls heat in 7:44.850 and will go in the semi-final at 9am tomorrow.

Lightweight pair Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll won their test and will have a favourable lane for Sunday's final.

Meanwhile, Rowing Ireland have announced the appointment of Antonio Maurogiovanni as High Performance Director.

Antonio is a former Italian Olympic rower who competed at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Games in the four and eight respectively.

Maurogiovanni has competed or coached at seven Olympic Games with several nations including Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia, where he was head Coach with the Western Australian team for 15 years.

Watch live coverage of the European Rowing Championships on RTÉ2 from 8.55am to 12pm on Saturday and from 9.15am to 1.30pm on Sunday.