The world champion O’Donovan brothers joked that a night out on the town helped to knock one of their big rivals out of the running ahead of the men’s lightweight double sculls final.

Gary and Paul cruised to victory in the final in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, beating the Italian and Belgian crews into silver and bronze respectively.

Norway were amongst the medal favourites too, but finished in fifth place after illness ruled Kristoffer Brun out of the race. Late substitute Jens Holm joined Are Strandli in the boat.

"One of the Norwegian crew got sick and they had to make a late substitution last night," explained Gary.

Paul takes up the story: "We were out on the town with them last night, but we were saying ‘big day tomorrow, we need to be on form’ so we headed away early, around 2am.

"By 3am Kristopher was buckled and they had to make the substitution then! Early this morning he was still hungover."

All joking aside, the Skibbereen men say that this world final was their best ever race in technical and tactical terms.

"We planned to win it all year, we’ve tried hard to win every race this year and we said the most important one would be the world championship," said Gary.

"We took our best strokes ever out there for 2,000m."

Paul added: "Those were the best strokes we’ve ever put together in our lives, I’d say."

The pair won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Paul, at 24 a year younger than Gary, has won single sculls world championships medals before but this was his older brother’s first world final.

Now they are already looking towards qualifying for Tokyo 2020, where they are eyeing top spot on the podium, in what is an exciting time for Irish rowing.

"We were very strong, very fit and very fast," said Gary.

"We trained hard all year, we got two summers this year because we went down to New Zealand and Australia.

"I’d say people thought we might have gone down there for a bit of a party, but we went there with the priority to work hard and that’s what we did. We took advantage of the opportunities we got out there."

As brothers, they often finish each other’s sentences and Gary jumps in at this point, saying: "The start of next September there’s a qualifying regatta and we need to be top seven there, I think, to qualify the boat.

"The end of July, start of August in 2020 the Olympic regatta is on and I think we have shown the potential to win it or win another medal. We've just got to keep doing what we’re doing."

Gary continued: "It’s exciting for the whole team. We have four boats in world championship finals. Last year we had four – one Olympic and three in non-Olympic events, this year it’s three Olympic and one non-Olympic.

"All the athletes here on the Irish team all year round have shown great independence, they’ve taken fierce responsibility for themselves and accountability for their own training and their own results. It’s evident that the team and the athletes have a lot of belief."

Watch live coverage of Ireland's two crews in World Rowing Championships final action on Sunday from 9.50am on RTÉ2 Television, with reports and reaction on the RTÉ News Now and and online at RTÉ.ie