Sat 22nd June saw the Canoe Marathon Ireland National Championships take place at the Lough Rynn regatta course near Mohill, Co Leitrim. The day kicked off with the novice race. 4 racers of the future navigated the wavy waters in front of the pontoons and received great encouragement from the bank. There was smiles all round as each paddler was presented with a medal at the finish. As paddlers warmed up for the Championship races the race briefing outlined the course which took in laps of the 2km long regatta course & for many classes included portages where paddlers had to exit their boats on 1 pontoon before racing with their boat in hand to the 2nd pontoon where they reentered the water.
The first of the 2 Championship races included all junior classes split into 3 separate starts. The 1st of these starts was the 15k U18 Boy’s event. Celbridge Paddlers Matt McCartney was the hot favorite after recently winning 2 Bronze medals at the Marathon World Cup in Norway. Matt went from the start and within a km had clear water between himself and the chasing bunch. Matt extended his lead over the 15k and 2 portages to cruise in and take the title. The chasing group saw some of the most entertaining racing of the day between Alex O’Brien (CPCC), Senan Forristal (TPCC) and Nathon Devine (SLCC). Both portages provided plenty of drama with all 3 paddlers entering both portages at a ferocious pace. In the end Senan took the Silver, Alex the Bronze and Nathon 4th position. The 2nd start of Race 1 was the 10k start which included the U18 Girls and U16 Boys races and contained 1 portage. In the Girls race SLCC’s Éabha Ní Drisceoil dominated from start to finish taking the title & being the 4th boat home overall out of the 10k start. Ashla Copeland took Silver after making up ground on her SLCC teammate Catriona McGonnigle over the portage before passing her on the 2nd lap. Catriona held on for the Bronze medal. The U16 Boys race saw 3 SLCC juniors break away from the field & stay together through most of the race until the last 200m. Paul Donnellan continued his good from taking the win over Ben Smith in 2nd and Ruairí Bray in 3rd. The final start of race 1 was the 7k U15 Girls and U14 Boys. These you racers had no portages to contend with. In the Boys race Connor O’Sullivan of SLCC opened up a 20 sec lead through the 1st lap & help it to the end. Ben Higgins & Connor Donnellan of SLCC took the remaining podium positions. In the Girls race Niamh Caffrey of SLCC took the title ahead of teammates Emma Curley & Kate O’Halloran. It was fantastic to see so many juniors racing through all age groups in both the boys and girls race. Well done to all the parents and coaches involved in developing these young athletes and getting them to races. There were many future stars in the making on the water on Saturday and we can’t wait to see what they do over the coming years.
Race 2 saw all the Seniors & Masters take to the water. The turnout was not quite as strong as the junior races but many classes still saw some fierce racing and multiple sprint finishes. In the Senior Men’s race Peter Egan broke away from the field early into the 20km race. He stretched his lead over the 4 laps & 3 portages to take the Senior Men’s title. Mick Doyle form Carlow & Donnacha Brennan of Thomastown battled it out the whole way to finish 2nd are 3rd respectively. Aisling Smith of SLCC took the Women’s title and was involved in a 3 way race with the leading Masters A (Over39) racers over the 15k course. Through 3 portages Aisline, Declan Halton and Malcom Banks stayed neck and neck. In the sprint Declan took the win over Malcom to take the title. Bronze went to Roddy Fox in his Irish race since moving to Cork from South Africa. In the 3rd start the 10k races say the Master B (Over49) and open B races. Open B class was designed to ensure we had a race for everyone as not all seniors or paddlers who fall under Masters A want to compete over longer distances which include portages. After 2 laps of racing Eddie Martin took the win in a sprint over Liam McCarthy and Open B winner Mark Clinton. Bronze in the Masters B went to Kevin Murphy of SLCC while Kilcullen’s Mick O’Farrell took the Open B Silver ahead of Jeff Twomey of SLCC.
A huge well done and thank you to all the paddlers and parents who travelled to the race. For 2019 the K1 and K2 National Championships were separated. The K2 Championships will take place at Salmon Leap Canoe Club on Sunday Aug 25th and we look forward to seeing who will take the titles. In the meantime there are a number of Marathon Ranking races available for anyone interested. Sunday 7th July see the always scenic Belturbet race take place. Sunday 21st July we travel to the surprise venue of 2018, Dripsy Channel in Cork for Phoenix CC race. For many who attended last year it was agreed it was one of the best Marathon racing venues in the country for both paddlers and spectators. 18th August we travel to the Nore for Thomastown Paddlers annual race down a fantastic stretch of river. And finally on Sat 24th August the Salmom Leap Canoe Club marathon takes place. This is being paired with the K2 National Championships for a double header weekend where we hope to have camping available & plenty of craic to go along with a solid weekend of racing.
See below for the full list of 2019 National Champions
2019 National Canoe Marathon Champions
Senior Men: Peter Egan SLCC
Senior Women: Aisling Smith SLCC
U18 Boys: Matt McCartney CPCC
U18 Girls: Éabha Ní Drisceoil SLCC
U16 Boys: Paul Donnellan SLCC
U15 Girls: Niamh Caffrey SLCC
U14 Boys: Connor O’Sullivan SLCC
Men Masters O39: Declan Halton SLCC
Men Masters O49: Eddie Martin SLCC
Open B Race Winner: Mark Clinton SLCC
Full Race results can be found here K1 REsults 2019