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Rowing: Bann’s gold pops Cork

A momentous year for Seamus Reynolds got even better last week when he helped lead Bann Rowing Club to a gold medal in the Irish National Rowing Championships in Cork.

Reynolds, a stalwart with the north-west club for almost 30 years was, in February, the recipient of a hugely prestigious honour when he was named Youth Coach of the Year at the National Awards to Volunteers in Irish Sport in Dublin.

The popular coach has been involved at Bann since 1978, first as a competitor before taking up a coaching role in the mid 1990’s when his children started rowing for the club.

Seamus’ coaching commitments during the winter see him down in the club on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays not to mention two sessions on Saturdays.

In the summer months he can be found on the river most evenings.

Seamus also takes time at home to working out training schedules for his crews as well as tailored programmes for each individual athlete.

And all these years of hard work paid off handsomely last week when the Coleraine clubs’ first ever gold in the Irish Championships — the biggest prize in Irish junior rowing — in the MJ18 eight category was secured.

Much has been expected of this talented squad and that potential finally bore the fruits of their labours with a truly sensational display in the final, where they saw off the best rowing teams in Ireland.

The crew are unbeaten since July 2009 and after winning silver in last year’s championship with a time of 6:40.2 the task was set to step up a level and attempt to beat the magical target of six minutes, over 2000 metres.

International senior eights races are often won in times of over six minutes, but Reynolds felt his crew were capable of beating that goal and set about preparing them for their biggest task — and as it turned out, it would be needed.

The biggest teams from up and down the island hitched up in Cork with Portora, Commercial, Presentation College and last year’s champions St Joseph’s joined by the famous Skibbereen club who have an amazing 109 championship gold medals to their name.

But none of them could get near Bann, who posted an incredible winning time of 5:54.4, with four of the six final teams breaking that six minute mark.

Joyous scenes greeted the Bann crew and for Seamus, another day to remember.

Belfast Telegraph