St. Kearns crowned queens of coastline
ALL ROADS led to Broadstrand shore, not far from Courtmacsherry, for the 2012 Irish Coastal Rowing Federation All-Ireland Championship. A total of 44 clubs, 493 crews and 2,475 competitors congregated on the West Cork shoreline to compete in 36 heats and 38 finals spread over three days.
Wexford was represented by four clubs - Edermine, Ferrycarrig, Killurin and St. Kearns. Once all the races were completed and the water had settled, three sets of All-Ireland medals were returning to three member clubs of the Slaney Rowing Association.
It was in the Heritage Races where the Wexford clubs accumulated all of their medals. It was always believed that this category provided great opportunity for the Wexford clubs. It is in these 'heritage' vessels that the Wexford clubs compete in locally in their own regattas.
The ladies' race was something special, as from the off three Wexford clubs came to the fore. St. Kearns, after a strong start, set the pace on the outward leg of the journey. Killurin and Ferrycarrig were in close pursuit behind.
The three boats almost turned in unison as they straightened up for the 750m sprint home. Killurin slightly headed St. Kearns after the turn, but not for long as the St. Kearns crew, in their distinctive yellow attire, wrestled back the lead with 500m to go. Both crews gave it their all and battled it out over the last stint of the race, where St. Kearns came out on top, only just from Killurin, with Ferrycarrig in third.
The St. Kearns crew of Una Rowe, Nuala Carroll, Ingrid Frost, Gillian Roche and cox Richie Roche were ecstatic after they were announced as All-Ireland champions. As the crew returned to the shore they were greeted with an abundance of congratulations, hugs and well wishes from family and club members. In an act of tremendous sportsmanship, the other Wexford clubs of Edermine, Ferrycarrig and Killurin joined in and offered their heartfelt congratulations to the victorious crew.
Wexford eyes were smiling as they thought that Wexford clubs had gained a clean sweep of medals on offer. However, unfortunately after a steward's enquiry, the Killurin crew was disqualified for an alleged breach of rules. It was unfortunate for this talented bunch of ladies but no doubt they will be back competing with great aplomb regionally and nationally next year. However, the Killurin men did claim some solace for the club as they placed an impressive third in the men's Heritage race.
For St. Kearns, it was a remarkable accomplishment considering the back story of the club and the crew. The club is petite to put it nicely. Limited facilities and very little success nationally make this victory all the more remarkable.
Two of the crew, Una Rowe and Nuala Carroll, competed in the Under-18 final less than two hours prior to this race. The other two members, Ingrid Frost and Gillian Roche, only took to the water and began rowing in the past few years. Richie Roche, one of the longest-serving members of the club, has put so much into the club and this in some ways acknowledges his tireless efforts.
St. Kearns Rowing Club was undoubtedly the toast of the Slaney Rowing Association. This small club based in Saltmills had their most successful year to date in 2012. The club competed extremely well in the Wexford Regattas, amassing numerous victories.
The unexpected All-Ireland success, the first for the club, rounds off the year appropriately. St. Kearns plan on concluding their year by entering four crews in the Barrow Challenge and two crews in The Great Twenty-Two Mile River Race, on the Thames in London.
The hard work and dedication of the club's committee ought to be acknowledged. The club has made tremendous strides forward this year and continues to grow. The future looks bright for the brightly-clad St. Kearns club.