We’re cheating a little here in that we weren’t actually there, like in Rio that August day in 2016 of course. On the biggest ever day for the sport of rowing in Ireland, it just so happened we had planned to be in Skibbereen for the morning anyway, sort of like finding yourself in Barcelona on the night they were playing a Champions League final in Wembley or in New Zealand for a Rugby World Cup final.
We know from talking to Eugene Coakley and Timmy Harnedy and from reading Kieran McCarthy’s excellent book ‘Something in the Water’ and from basically every interview that the O’Donovans have done the following: How important Dominic Casey was to the entire movement, how you can be a nice guy and still have that toughness to see it through, but how you need that element of slight madness as well to commit completely to that kind of life.
Watching it again it happened so quickly, this sudden burst where Ireland looked only slightly out of things and then, like the next time the camera zoomed in, the Irish boat was right there, bobbing up and back with the French and a significant bit ahead of the others.
Rowing in Ireland was never the same after and never will be. Skibbereen rowing club won’t either.