7 things we learned about the O'Donovan brothers from the 'Pull Like A Dog' documentary

It’s been an incredible 2016 for Paul and Gary.

THE O’DONOVAN BROTHERS captured the hearts of the nation following their silver medal exploits at the Rio Olympics.

Their positive disposition, quirky phrases and affable nature made them a popular pair.

Last night, RTÉ aired the ‘Pull Like A Dog’ documentary which charts the lives of the O’Donovan brothers and their fascinating journey in rowing.

The documentary features a range of voices who watched the brothers progress in their sport, including their parents, coaches and clubmates from the Skibbereen Rowing Club.

Here are some of the interesting things we learned from the programme.

It could have been gold

While winning an Olympic medal is a notable achievement, the O’Donovans know that the gold medal was within their grasp. Speaking on the documentary, Paul spoke openly about the upsetting emotions that come with watching the final race.

Paul O'D Paul O'Donovan speaking on the documentary.

“I find it hard, just when people play back the race and you can see us nearly overtaking the French and we just fall back and they start pulling away. It gets harder and harder every time.”

Hopes for the future

The O’Donovan brothers have been rowing since they were less than 10 years of age and their father Teddy revealed on the documentary that he was dreaming of one day when they might compete on a world stage.

o'd Teddy O'Donovan coached Paul and Gary O'Donovan for much of their youth.

“They had no interest in learning to row, they wanted to race. There was something there, a drive and an urge. I suppose at that stage, I was probably dreaming a bit of what might be rather than what would be.”

Becoming characters

Paul and Gary Paul and Gary relive the many times they made life difficult for their Dad alongside Shane O'Driscoll.

Teddy O’Donovan nurtured the rowing talent of his two sons but as the boys progressed in the sport they developed an arrogant attitude, which made them difficult to coach at times.

In the documentary, they recall seeing their father getting irate in the boat whenever they would disobey him during training. In retaliation, they would sometimes “shake the boat, to see if we could knock him out”.

Setting the record straight

Gary and Paul are members of the Skibbereen Rowing Club, but their home parish is Aughadown in west Cork.

Priest Fr Donal Cahill addresses a crowd with the O'Donovan brothers either side of him.

During the coverage of the Olympics, the O’Donovans were sometimes named as natives of Skibbereen and during the ‘Pull Like A Dog’ documentary, local parish priest Fr Donal Cahill wanted to set the record straight.

“One other thing that struck me and I feel a bit angry about it. Of the seven (rowers) who were at the world championships — six of them come from the parish of Aughadown, so why are they calling it Skibbereen?”

The secret of Skibbereen Rowing Club

Skibbereen Rowing Club is Ireland’s top ranked club, according to the documentary, and is home to 163 national titles.

Skibbereen Skibbereen rowers get ready to head out on the water.

Gary O’Donovan says their head coach Dominic Casey is a “freak” when it comes to rowing and is constantly looking for new ways to improve the club and the performance levels of the members.

But aside from hard work, there’s no secret behind their success. Everyone trains together, from their youngest members right up to the international rowers like the O’Donovan brothers.

Parting ways with their Dad as coach

They credit their father with teaching them how to row from an early age, but the O’Donovans found the constant interaction with their father difficult as they got older.

Speaking on the documentary, Gary explained the reason why Dominic Casey took over the coaching duties from Teddy.

Teddy O'D Teddy O'Donovan.

“When we were younger, we didn’t really like the fact that our Dad was there all the time with us in the rowing club. We were young and growing up and wanted to be away from our parents.

“We were hanging out with our friends. We kind of found it difficult that our Dad was there all the time.”

Olympic confessions

The rowing pair qualified for the Olympic final after placing third in the semi-final, but it turns out that Gary wasn’t quite giving it his all.

Towards the end of the documentary, Paul says:

Rio Paul and Gary O'Donovan at the end of the Olympic semi-final.

“During the semi-final, I was in bits at the end because for whatever reason, Gary didn’t realise how hard I was pulling. I remember hearing Gary say, ‘Jesus I thought we were going to win it, that was great, we’re in the shape of our lives.’ I nearly turned round and strangled him only I hadn’t the energy. But I was like, ‘OK, he has more to give.’”

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