Bann Rowers strike triple gold in Cork

WELL DONE...Joel Cassells and Chris Black are joined in the celebrations after winning the Father Diffley Cup by coach Seamus Reynolds and captain Keith Reynolds.
WELL DONE...Joel Cassells and Chris Black are joined in the celebrations after winning the Father Diffley Cup by coach Seamus Reynolds and captain Keith Reynolds.

“This is Bann’s greatest ever Irish Championship result” announced Bobbie Platt MBE, the President of Bann Rowing Club.

He was referring to Bann Rowing Club’s triple gold success in Cork.

The 2011 Championship in the National Rowing Centre, Cork, saw Bann entering six events. In total they qualified for the “A” final in all six events, and actually won three golds and one silver. Every single Bann rower won at least one Championship medal, either silver or gold, including their excellent Cox Jack Henry.

Jack has set some sort of a record himself. Last year, his elder brother Patrick won gold and silver medals racing in the “four” and the “eight” for Bann in the 2010 Irish Championships. This year Jack repeated the family feat by winning gold and silver medals, again, in the 2011 Bann Championship “four” and “eight” crews.

The first race was a straight final, the MJ18 eights, with Bann seeking to retain their 2010 Championship and extend their boat “the Sizzler’s” magnificent “unbeaten in Ireland” streak, which stretches back two years to these same Championships in July 2009.

Stroke Joel Cassells setting an incredible early pace.

Both boats sped over the finishing line absolutely steaming along, at enormous speed, right beside each other.

Eventually the result was confirmed; “Bish” had managed to win by around 3 feet, exactly half a second in time. Bann had won silver with a fabulous race time of 5:52.1, which was 2.3 seconds faster than the old record, but nevertheless Bann were half a second behind “Bish” who had set a new record time of 5:51.6.

The Bann MJ18 coxed four were next up to race and looked devastating in their semi-final as they blasted out a massive lead by 1,000m and then executed coach Seamus Reynold’s instructions by relaxing, and still winning by three lengths from Portora and “Bish”.

In the final, it soon became apparent that no-one in Ireland could come close to matching the Bann crew and in emphatic style they swept over the finishing line to take GOLD by an astonishing 8.3 seconds margin over “Bish”.

Sarah Allen’s epic day began with a convincing row in her semi-final of the WJ18 single sculls, to qualify her for her target of making the “A” final. Sarah’s excellent time of 8:35.2 gave coach Geoff Bones every reason to have confidence for the forthcoming Novice event.

Sarah’s sculling was improving with every race, and she looked even stronger when qualifying in second place in her semi-final, just behind Addley from Queens.

As she swept past Addley and into the lead, a huge cheer went up from the Bann supporters down at the water’s edge, and Sarah, just kept on accelerating away, getting stronger and faster with every stroke. At the finish, Sarah had turned the tables, knocking Addley from Queen’s down into bronze, and defeating Mertz from Shandon by a healthy 4.7 second margin.

She had won, not only Bann’s first ever Ladies Championship sculling gold, but also, the first ever sculling Championship for Bann in its proud history.

Bann’s MJ18 quad, had sculled together just once prior to the Champs, and were the same crew who had raced in the eight and then won gold in the coxed four. The boat had been fast and well balanced and coach Seamus Reynolds had decided to give them a “wild card” entry at the champs.

In one of the biggest upsets of the day, Bann moved from fourth, into third and then with 500m to go really started eating into second placed Portora’s huge lead.

Castleconnell were away safe in first, but with the finish line approaching Bann were going at a tremendous speed and their great rivals Portora seemed to have run out of gas. The result took ages and then out it came. Yes, Bann had done it.

The last event for Bann was the MJ18 pairs and this was going to be a real cracker.

Last year’s winners, Presentation were back with the same crew to defend their title. Since defeating the same Bann pair in the final last year, they had won all over Ireland, even at Intermediate and Senior levels.

Presentation tore off at a blistering pace, and by 300m had established a lead of about two lengths but both Bann and “Bish” had also made lightening fast starts.

This Bann pair are just a little bit special, their class now began to tell and they powered smoothly away from both “Bish” and Presentation, and just kept flying faster and smoother and even faster right to the finish for Bann’s first ever “pairs” gold.

Bann’s seventeen year old pair won their MJ18 championship in an amazing 6:53.2, making them the fastest pair, in all categories, in Ireland.

This great win made it a golden hatrick of Irish Championship wins for Bann, a record haul!