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Ireland's women's four take silver medal at European Championships

The Irish women’s pair missed out on a medal in their final.

Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and Eimear Lambe celebrate their medal.
Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and Eimear Lambe celebrate their medal.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

THE IRISH WOMEN’S four missed out on a gold medal at the European Championships in Munich today, but held off the challenge of Romania to win silver, and secure the first Irish medal of the Championships. 

Ireland took bronze in this category at the Tokyo Olympics, with Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh retaining their place in the boat for this event, joined by Tara Hanlon and Natalie Long. 

Victory in their heat set the gold medal as the target this morning, but Ireland were beaten by a superb British team. Ireland held a narrow lead at the 500-metre mark but then fell behind, trailing the British boat by just over two seconds at the finish. The British performance forced the Irish crew to switch focus from chasing gold to protecting silver, with the Romanian boat hounding them from the outside lane. 

A strong finish held off their challenge and somewhat trimmed the gap to Great Britain, meaning Ireland took the silver medal by 0.84 seconds. Romania themselves narrowly secured bronze, just 0.56 seconds ahead of Denmark. Poland finished a distant sixth.

“You are always backing yourself no matter what, there was no point in the race where we thought, ‘Oh, it’s all over.’ We were strong in the second half and the girls know that when we say ‘Go’, we mean business”, Fiona Murtagh told RTÉ after the race, saying a stronger start than usual is part of a new strategy ahead of the World championships. “We tried it today, we went off a bit harder than usual and probably suffered a bit more, but we needed to try it and we know what we need to learn and hopefully move onto the worlds with this new strategy.” 

“We had suffered a bit from the first half”, added Tara Hanlon. “we still hung on for silver, we are happy with the performance.” 

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Earlier, the women’s pair of Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh – both of whom were in the boat that delivered Olympic bronze in the women’s four last year – missed out on a medal in their final, finishing fourth in a race won by Romania. 

fiona-murtagh-and-emily-hegarty-after-finishing-fourth Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty after finishing fourth. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The Irish pair were fourth at the half-way point but just two seconds behind leaders Great Britain, but were left behind in the race’s latter kilometre, finishing 10.72 seconds behind gold medalists Romania, themselves 1.79 seconds clear of second-placed GB. Netherlands were third, five seconds clear of the Irish boat. Croatia finished fifth, with Greece sixth. 

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Gavin Cooney

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