The Ireland team for the European Rowing Championships on April 9th to 11th will be headed up by the men's lightweight double of Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, who are world champions from 2019.
In the women's single, Sanita Puspure will not be entered for the European Championships; the world champ decided against spending five weeks in Europe to train. Puspure will travel to the Ireland training camp in Italy after the Championships, but will not compete in Varese.
Antonio Maurogiovanni, the Ireland high performance director, said it was "part of the plan" that she would not compete. All going well she will be targeted at the second World Cup in Lucerne in May.
McCarthy was chosen ahead of Gary O'Donovan in a very tight selection process in trials at the National Rowing Centre. Paul O'Donovan continues to be the premier lightweight single sculler.
Paul O'Donovan teamed up with his brother Gary to take silver for Ireland at the Olympic Games in 2016 and they became world champions in 2018. However, in 2019, McCarthy displaced Gary and teamed up with Paul O'Donovan to win gold at the World Championships at Linz-Ottensheim in Austria.
Ireland hopes to have a women's four and a lightweight women's double scull for the final Olympic qualification regatta at Lucerne, Switzerland, from May 16th to 18th. The Ireland women's four chosen for the Europeans is a relatively young crew of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh. A pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska has also been chosen.
The women's lightweight double will consist of Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey. Lydia Heaphy pushed very hard to take the place with Cremen. As with Gary O'Donovan, Heaphy will be entered as a lightweight single sculler in Varese.
The men's double of Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle - silver medallists at the World Championships in Linz-Ottensheim in 2019 - will be reconstituted for the Europeans.
Doyle, who is a doctor, took time out during the Covid 19 epidemic to serve in Daisy Hill hospital in Northern Ireland. He won a battle with Daire Lynch, who partnered Byrne to a silver medal at the 2020 European Championships, for his spot.
This year, the Ireland senior team will compete at the European Championships in Varese and World Cup II in Lucerne, from May 21st to 23rd, prior to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.
Maurogiovanni said that the composition of the team for that World Cup will be decided after the Europeans. "We will see how the crews go, then we have the camp [in Italy], then we go to World Cup II, then we see how the crews go and then make the final announcement of the crews for the Olympic Games."
The Ireland team for the European Championships named today is:
Double Sculls: R Byrne, P Doyle
Single Sculls: D Lynch
Lightweight Double: P O'Donovan, F McCarthy
Lightweight Single: G O'Donovan
Four: A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty
Pair: M Dukarska, A Crowley
Lightweight Double: A Casey, M Cremen
Lightweight Single: L Heaphy
Reserves (Four/Pair): T Hanlon, C Feerick