Brilliant Bronzes for Bann Rowing Club.

Brilliant Bronzes for Bann Rowing Club.

At the recent 2014 Irish National Rowing Championships, Bann Rowing Club successfully won two excellent third place bronzes, in both the Ladies and Mens junior eights. This remarkable feat means that no less than 18 young athletes from Bann are now celebrating with their Irish Championship medals after successfully completing another exceptionally tough years training.

Bann Rowing Club had a unique,” send off”, package with the fabulous news that local 20 year old Bann legend Joel Cassells had stroked the Oxford Brook’s eight to a historic win in the Temple Challenge Cup at the Royal Henley Regatta. If this wasn’t enough, just two days later Irish Rugby star Andrew Trimble had spent time with the Bann Championship athletes and coaches explaining how to prepare for this type of huge occasion.  After this fabulous send off it was then the long journey down to Cork.

Bann’s first race was a straight final for the mens junior eights, an event in which the afore-mentioned Joel Cassells had stoked previous Bann crews to silver, Gold and silver medals in three successive years. This, very young,  2014 Bann Mens crew, would be stroked by their prodigious fourteen year old Aaron Christie, and none of the Bann crew had any prior International or Championship experience whatsoever. But the Bann men were really fast and raced exceptionally well to get the Club off to a tremendous start by winning their bronze medals. The crew were elated considering that the unfortunate, fourth placed, Cork crew had 1 Coupe and 4 Home International lads in their experienced crew. In Bann’s great sporting tradition, the Bann crew all exchanged handshakes, man for man, with the victorious Portora crew.

The Bann ladies eight had suffered several, really unfortunate, injuries beforehand, necessitating a last minute crew change, but they had enjoyed a tremendous season with several very notable victories over yet another excellent Portora Ladies crew. Bann’s experienced coach, Geoff Bones, had helped no less than four of his squad, Brega, Erin, Francesca and Naomi, gain International selection, and his entire crew were very determined to give it the race of their lives. This race in fact turned out to be one of the best and closest races of the entire Championship Regatta. A tremendously close finish between three excellent crews from Bann, Portora and Cork was only sorted out over the very, very final strokes. Geoff’s crew had battled themselves to an absolute standstill and every single girl had done him proud, only losing by the narrowest of margins, mere inches, to Portora and the eventually winners, a huge Cork crew stuffed with experienced Internationals. This really was another excellent result from Bann and all the parents who had made the long journey down were ecstatic with another excellent Championship result for Bann.

After rowing to orders in qualifying through their semi-final the Bann men’s coxed four eventually finished 5th in their final, in what Rowing Ireland described as “the best race of the entire championship”. Only 5 seconds separated the first five crews after an epic 2,000m battle; with the lead changing constantly, almost every twenty stokes, between all of these five boats.  Bann’s rousing performance was very pleasing because the final crew had only been selected from a timed, training matrix conducted just a few weeks beforehand, and they had never raced together until these Championships. Coach Jeremy Johnston’s first, of many, congratulationary phone calls was from Club President, 93 year old Bobbie Platt MBE, who gave such sincere praise to Jeremy that it genuinely moved him to tears of happy relief.

Similarly, in training, just prior to the Championships, Ladies coach Geoff Bones had noticed that he had a lightning fast ladies quadruple crew;  and the young crew rowed exceptionally well through qualification from their semi-final. Again, in the finals, the Bann crew looked classy, and were very well positioned in third place, and accelerating rapidly,  with only 500m left to go when a technical problem occurred leaving no way back for the unfortunate crew. But this certainly is another  lightening fast, young, Bann crew with a big future ahead of them.

Club Captain Keith Leighton warmly congratulated all the young rowers and their coaches. He then made a particular point of thanking the many Bann friends, supporters and parents who had made the long trek down to Cork but at the very least, everyone was returning, very happily, with an Irish Championship rowing medal.

August 25th, 2014

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