by Donal Hayes
THE return of two-oar rowing after an absence of nearly a quarter of a century, turned out to be a great success.
Hosted by the GalleyFlash Rowing Club at their Kilkern Lake base the event attracted not only competitors from throughout the rowing community in West Cork but also from neighbouring Cork Harbour-based Cork Rowing Association in the form of rowers from Cobh Fisherman’s Club.
A fine bright sunny May morning greeted the rowers as the competition got underway just after midday and while the day itself may have got cooler as it progressed the performance of the rowers certainly didn’t wane as the afternoon passed by.
With 50 teams entered and a total of 22 races on the schedule a feast of fine rowing was on display.
Some five and a half hours after the start of the competition the home team of GalleyFlash rowers John Harrington and Sean Keohane coxed by Niamh Hayes emerged victorious in the men’s event, while the title of Ladies’ two-oar champion went to near neighbours Ring RC with Galley rowers Niamh Hayes and Donna Burke coxed by Micheal Harrington collecting the silver medals.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this inaugural event such a success, Fachtna O’Connor for the safety boat.
SWCYRA officials JJ McCarthy and Declan O’Donovan, all those who prepared, donated and helped with the refreshments.
O’Donovan’s Fishers Cross and all who helped out for the barbeque.
Red Bull for giving wings to the rowers, Fr McCarthy for his blessing of the boats and the use of marquee and those who came to put it up.
Thanks too to the organising committee and those who laid out the course and all the race officials and helpers on the day.
A special word of thanks must go to all the rowers and theirs clubs without whom this event would never have taken place.
The whole inspiration for this event was of course the momentous achievements of the GalleyFlash two-oar crews of 1988 when the Galley claimed the All-Ireland titles in both men’s and ladies’ categories.
Martin O’Leary and James O’Driscoll were the two-oar men rowers with Martina (O’Sullivan) Dullea and Collette (O’Leary) Barrett rowing in the ladies’ race.
All four were on hand together with super cox Noel Fitzpatrick to witness the resurrection of the races at which they excelled.
Their presence at the event and presentation deeply appreciated by all at the club.
While this competition may be over for another year there is no let up in the run up to the new championship season now only a month away.
On Saturday, June 2nd a team from the GalleyFlash will again compete in the Ocean to City competition in Cork Harbour.
The club being one of the few that has competed in every Ocean to City since its inception almost a decade ago.
Then on the following day Sunday, June 4th the annual regatta will be hosted by the club at Kilkern Lake.
This will be the first chance for many in the community to see some of the finest rowers in the country, especially the underage rowers, in action since their unprecedented success at last year’s All-Ireland finals.
It is hoped that there will be a large gathering on hand to cheer on the Galley as they compete on home waters.