It will be standing room only in the Corner Bar and most other places in Skibbereen today as the O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen Rowing Club go for gold this afternoon
Despite the shock defeat of Irish boxer and Olympic team captain Paddy Barnes in his first fight on Monday morning, Team Ireland are well on their way to making this one of our country’s most successful Olympics ever.
One such pairing that look set to bring add to our medal haul are Co. Cork brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan who were just two of the competitors making Monday a great day for Irish rowing. Flying through their heat in the Lightweight Double Sculls, the siblings from Skibbereen are now through to the semi-final but it was their congratulatory interview with Irish broadcasters that won their place in the hearts of the nation, simply because they couldn’t have sounded more Irish if they’d tried.
The Skibbereen brothers are fast becoming online heroes and national treasures. “Ah, so far so good, you know we had a cracker of a race there you know, I think that race had nearly everything you could want for any race,” Gary said after the race. “And I suppose, with the year that’s in it, ’tis great to beat the Brits as well,” he added with a smile. The conversation turned to strategy. “Nothing too complex really – A to B as fast as you can go and hope for the best,” Paul said. “Close the eyes and pull like a dog,” he added.
The brothers’ account of their time in Rio was made all the more colourful, thanks to the west Cork accent. “Get a bit of steak,” Paul said about his plans for the evening. “The food is fantastic there like, you could have steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with spuds if you like,” his brother added. The siblings, who won their heat on Monday, came third in the semi final yesterday, behind the French and the United States, both favoured teams, in a time of 6:35.70.
Meanwhile, there was a Brazilian feel in West Cork as samba music pulsed through the streets of Skibbereen to cheer on local heroes Gary (22) and Paul (21). Their mother, Trish O’Donovan, who is in Rio, said it has been a “surreal experience”. “Without a shadow of a doubt I’m proud to have two children competing. To have one would be surreal but to have two here and both of them competing in the same boat? It is absolutely unbelievable,” she said. The boys’ father, Teddy, took to social media to underline his delight at their achievement in reaching an Olympic final. Fittingly, it was Teddy who introduced the boys to the sport via Skibbereen Rowing Club. Skibbereen on the River Ilen is blessed with a wide and beautiful sheltered stretch of tidal river as the Ilen makes it way down to the open sea at Baltimore. The rowing club has a fine clubhouse on the river and an enviable record in getting young people involved and training them for success.
Hopes are high for the O’Donovan brothers, who are the current European champions, as they enter the semi-final heat, while fellow rowers Sinead Jennings and Claire Lambe are hoping to follow their lead in the women’s equivalent after their own second place finish during the heats.
As for Skibb’s local heroes the Boys will give it their best today, they’ve no qualms about being in the spotlight as they prepare for a tilt at an Olympic medal at the Lagoa Stadium. in their own words:
We met the mammy of Cork Olympic rowers Paul and Gary O'Donovan in Rio today.
She's unbelievably proud of her boys.https://t.co/pptbte9hme
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) August 10, 2016
“But tis all great anyway,” said Paul “We love the sport of rowing and would do anything we can to promote it and represent and we are delighted we can be good ambassadors for the sport. Not just for Skibbereen but for the sport as a whole and it’s a huge honour.”
Go on lads, pull like dogs and enjoy some steak afterwards, as we say in these parts “No Bother!”
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 12, 2016