WHEN the GalleyFlash collected three sets of Gold medals at the 2011 All-Ireland in Rosslare, they would never in their wildest dreams have expected even more in 2012. But in years to come 2012 will be remembered for, among other things, the year four sets of All-Ireland Gold medals found their way back to Ardfield-Rathbarry.
The omens were good, even on Friday evening when Curley O’Driscoll’s rendition of the “Boy’s of the GalleyFlash” mysteriously played over the PA immediately after the National Anthem at the Broadstrand venue.
Aine Tobin, Lisa Hayes, Laura Connolly and Mary Ann McCarthy with Cox Niamh Hayes formed the Under 21 Ladies who as Cork County Champions were amongst the favourites to challenge for victory in their race.
They really lived up to that favourites tag as the fought right to the line retaining the cup won by the club last year.
A great start to Saturday’s rowing, GalleyFlash winning the first final of the day
Another familiar trophy winding its way back to the Galley is the Under 14 Ladies Trophy. Micheal Harrington will be getting his name engraved onto the trophy for the second time as he coxed Claire McCarthy, Fiona Tobin, Keri Ahern and Aoife O’Keeffe to victory. The girls had steadily improved as the season developed and peaked just in time to repeat the achievements of their predecessors in 2001, 2004 & 2005
Yet another Cup that had resided on occasion at the Galley in recent times is the Senior Men’s Cup. Having won the Cup in 2009 at Waterville, the challenge to regain the title was never going to be easy.
The superb Senior Men’s crew from All-Ireland host club, Courtmacsherry, were current All-Ireland Champions as well as County and South West Champions and the other local crew from Kilmacsimon has amongst its ranks some of the country’s finest rowers, stood between the Galley crew and victory.
The Galley crew of John Harrington, Sean Keohane, Paul Deasy and Barry Hooper coxed by Niamh Hayes proved that they were up to the challenge and lead the race virtually from the start, winning despite the tremendous efforts of the other two West Cork Crews.
A number of races for boats other than the standard ICRF Celtic Yawl are held at the All-Ireland finals each year.
As the finals were being held in Cork this year, races for the Cork Wooden Yawl were held.
These were the boats used by clubs from both Cork Rowing Association’s clubs until the introduction of the Celtic Yawl a decade ago. They are still competed in at the fun regatta’s throughout the county.
The Galley crew entered in the Ladies race were Niamh Hayes, Catherine McCarthy, Ciara Rahilly and Carol Hayes.
Cox Julie Harrington steered the ladies to victory adding another Cup to the trophy cabinet.
In the Intermediate Men’s race the Galley crossed the finish line in second position only to hear themselves announced as winners, as the boat ahead of them had been disqualified.
However, after an appeal, the medals were presented in the order in which the boats had crossed the line. The GalleyFlash Silver Medal winners were Danny Hayes, Karl McCarthy, Mark O’Brien and Dave McCarthy.
Niamh Hayes also coxed this crew.
The Galley’s Senior Ladies crew of Niamh Hayes, Lisa Hayes, Donna Burke and Laura Connolly added an All-Ireland Bronze medal to their County and SWCYRA Championship Gold Medals.
The Master Ladies Crew of Breeda Hayes, Loretta Tobin, Mary O’Sullivan and Marion McCarthy with Cox Niamh Hayes also collected bronze as reward for their efforts.
The final set of bronze medals were won by the Galley’s representatives in the Men’s Cork Wooden Yawl race, Paddy Harrington, Ger Cullinane, Micheal Harrington and Ricky Cleary, Niamh Hayes again coxed this crew.
Of the Galley crews that missed out on medal winning positions the Under 12 Ladies were probably the most unfortunate. Alison Taylor, Laura Ahern, Anais O’Donovan and Sinead O’Connor coxed by Lisa Hayes finished inches behind the boat in third position.
Another crew piped on the line for third place was the Junior Ladies team Of Mary Ann McCarthy, Catherine McCarthy, Ciara Rahilly and Laura Connolly, Cox Niamh Hayes.
The Under 12 crew of Gary Lombard, Ian O’Keeffe, Daniel O’Brien and Rory O’Connor under the steer of Paddy Harrington showed great potential in their efforts over the weekend.
The Under 16 Ladies Sioned Miles, Eimear O’Keeffe, Zoe Taylor, Roisin O’Brien and cox Niamh Hayes gave another solid performance in their final.
The Intermediate Ladies Aine Tobin, Carol Hayes, Ellen Mae Ahern and Hannah Courtney led for much of the first half of their race but were unfortunate not to capitalise on their fine start.
The Pre Vet Ladies Julie Harrington, Imelda O’Keeffe , Ellen Mae Ahern and Paula Keohane coxed by Paddy Harrington and the Veteran Ladies Breeda Hayes, Bernie O’Donovan, Mary Collins and Joanne Taylor coxed by Julie Harrington and the Veteran mixed crew of Bernie O’Donovan, Barry Taylor, Ger O’Sullivan and Joanne Taylor coxed by Julie Harrington all gave impressive displays in their respective finals.
Great showings too from the Under 14 crew of Claire McCarthy, Anna Duggan, Ruby Sullivan and Orlaith O’Driscoll with cox Paddy Harrington, the Under 16 crew John Carroll, Adam Ahern, Nick O’Hea and Daniel O’Sullivan coxed by Barry Hooper, the Under 18 Ladies crew of Marie Tobin, Catherine McCarthy, Ciara Rahilly and Danielle Hayes coxed by Paddy Harrington.
To add to the medal collection Bernie O’Donovan was awarded with a special Gold Medal at the presentation in appreciation for her years of service to the SWCYRA.
So once again the small club with the big heart punches above its weight emerging as one of the top Coastal Rowing clubs in the Country.
This is only possible because the fantastic rowers are complemented with an equally fantastic backup team, the coaches and trainers, the people who transport, load and mind the boat, those who set up marquees, made teas and kept twitter and facebook up to date and in general did whatever needed to be done.
To quote the old saying “It was a great day (weekend) for the parish”.