UCD took 2016 National Championships for Mens Club 8+, Womens Senior 4- and Womens Intermediate 8+ but were pipped to the line in Mens Senior 8+ and Mens Intermediate 4+, while also finishing 2nd in Mens Senior 1x, Mens Senior 2-, Mens Intermediate 8+.
First race of the weekend was Womens Club 4+ where UCD won their heat but finished 3rd in the final 4.5 seconds behind winners Fermoy and 2nd placed Skibbereen.
Mens Intermediate 4+ saw two UCD crews entered, both progressing comfortably through their heats. In the final UCD B got off to a quick start but UCD A took the initiative after that and had moved into the lead by 500m, marginally ahead of NUIG. UCD A and NUIG battled down the course in a repeat of their meeting at Cork Regatta three weeks previous. NUIG were able to gain a half length advantage in the third 500m but UCD charged well towards the end, ultimately running out of time and finishing 0.8 seconds behind NUIG and 5 seconds ahead of 3rd placed St Michaels.
Womens Senior 4- was a straight final with the Skibbereen/UCC composite taking the lead and holding it for the body of the course. UCD would not be shaken however and held both their pace and nerve to come through the composite and win by 4 seconds.
Old Collegians raced well in the Mens Senior 2x but were beaten by the Skibbereen crew.
UCD had two entries in Mens Senior 1x with Ad Astra student Andrew Goff and Turlough Hughes both progressing to the final. The final saw a determined race from Skibbereen’s Mark O’Donovan who raised his rate above the others. Turlough was his closest challenger, pushing him hard down the body of the course and maintaining contact until the closing stages when O’Donovan was able to open his advantage to finish 6 seconds ahead of Turlough, with Andrew finishing in 5th.
UCD got off to a relatively slow start in Mens Club 8+, sitting in 3rd place behind Trinity and Commercial for the early part of the race. However they continued to row well and overtook both crews in the middle of the race and held their lead to win by 2 seconds over Trinity.
Womens Intermediate 8+ was a convincing win for UCD as they took an early lead and built on it, finishing 9 seconds clear of 2nd placed Commercial.
Mens Senior 2- doubled as a timetrial for UCD’s U23 lightweight pair of Ad Astra student David O’Malley and Shane Mulvaney, with their performance determining whether they would compete at the 2016 U23 World Championships. Skibbereen’s combination of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan were already selected as the Senior lightweight pair for this years World Championships and they led the race, setting a new course record of 6:30.311 (smashing the previous 6:46.05), but UCD’s pair showed their class and kept pace with them, finishing in 6:33.546, well inside the record and demonstrating their capability to race at the U23 World Championships.
Mens Intermediate 8+ saw a UCD crew combined from their Senior and Intermediate groups get off to a good start, leading by half a length after 250m and holding it until 1000m. However the relatively short amount of time together for the crew began to show as conditions became choppier in the second half of the course and the cleaner rowing of Commercial was able to come through, winning by 1 1/2 lengths.
UCD had two entries in Mens Intermediate 1x with both Andrew Goff and Shane O’Connell progressing to the final. Daire Lynch of Clonmel took control of the final winning by 3 lengths over 2nd placed Declan O’Connor of St Michaels but Shane and Andrew battled well, finishing 3rd and 4th respectively.
Mens Novice 8+ saw Trinity continue their good form so far this season with a convincing win in 6:00.157, over 11 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Queens who themselves finished 3 seconds ahead of UCD.
First race of Sunday was the Mens Club 4+ where UCD progressed comfortably through to the final. However they could not keep pace with the leaders, finishing in 4th place behind NUIG, Commercial and St Josephs.
The draw was unkind to UCD in the Mens Intermediate 2x as they missed out on a place in the final by 0.3 seconds, in a time that would have comfortably seen them through from the other two heats and was just half a length back on the eventual winners Skibbereen.
Womens Intermediate 4+ was a straight final with Commercial winning by 4 seconds over St Michaels and UCD another 1.5 seconds back.
Womens Senior 8+ was another straight final, with the strong Skibbereen/UCC composite taking the win. UCD battled hard down the course but ultimately finished 5 seconds back, over 10 seconds clear of 3rd placed Trinity.
Last race of the season was Mens Senior 8+ where UCD had two entries, with both the Senior and Intermediate groups represented. As luck would have it, they were drawn together in the heat alongside Commercial and a Queens/Portadown composite which included some talented scullers, with three crews to progress. Commercial got off to a quick start with UCD A giving chase while the power of the composite saw them edge ahead of UCD B. UCD A continued to battle with Commercial down the course while UCD B’s faster cruising speed took them through the composite. By the end, Commercial were less than 1/4 length ahead of UCD A, with UCD B half a length back and just over a length ahead of the composite.
The final saw these three crews joined by Trinity and NUIG from the other heat. Again Commercial got off to a fast start with UCD A giving chase. NUIG edged ahead of UCD B who were level with Trinity. As the race wore on Commercial and UCD A broke away from the rest with NUIG holding about a length lead on UCD B who were beginning to pull ahead of Trinity. The final stretch brought a huge charge from UCD A and but for one stroke where oars clipped the water they may have caught them, but a photo finish determined Commercial were the winners by 0.3 seconds, with both crews breaking the course record. NUIG finished 7 seconds back in the 3rd with UCD B just under 4 seconds off them. Trinity finished last, 4.5 seconds off UCD B.
It was a cruel finish to the season but the club can be proud to have had two crews compete so well at the highest level of the sport in Ireland.