brOdhran Donaghy claimed bronze in the Under 23 European Rowing Championships, missing out on a silver medal by a tenth of a second in a nail biting finish in the coxless fours.

The Great Britain boat finished second in their heat and had to qualify for the final through the repechage. Second place in that race secured their spot in the final, and despite a slow start they came charging through the field to claim a podium position.

“It was a bit tougher racing than we thought it was going to be, but we were happy to come away with something,” admitted Odhran. “We were hoping for gold, but we were happy just to get a medal.”

The four man crew for the Great Britain boat had only been finalised in the days leading up to the championships, and with the quartet having only rowed together for a month they decided to try something different in their first heat.

“We decided to do something a bit new, and I don’t know if it paid off or not but we went out pretty hard to the first 500,” explained Odhran.

“We knew we weren’t as strong and as fast as the other crews, so we went out like the clappers and held on as best we could.

“At the 1000 metre mark we were first, with the Polish and the Germans all going for one spot to qualify for the final. The Polish got us by a second. They came through in the last 100 metres and I think they just wanted it a bit more than us.”

That result left the GB crew fighting it out for one of the top four positions in the repechage, and they adopted a change of tactics to secure their spot in the A final.

“We went off a bit slower in the first 500 so we were actually last, but at the 1000 metre mark we knew everyone would start to die off and that is where we were going to put the foot down a bit more than anyone else and claw everyone back,” said Odhran.

“Eventually we did, but the Greeks just went off and absolutely stormed the field by about two lengths. I didn’t even know we were in the race, I thought we were in first place because I couldn’t even see them out of my peripheral vision. We came through in second place.”

The two automatic qualifiers, Romania and Poland, were the favourites going into Sunday’s final, but Odhran admitted they still had hopes of taking the top spot.

“We went back to the hotel and talked about what our race plan was and had a meeting with the coaches, and we felt the gold wasn’t out of sight,” he said.

“At the first 500 we were last, and then at the 1000 metre mark we were in fourth place. We usually do a last 500 metre sprint, but we went at the 800 metre mark.

“We were level with the Polish, and the Romanians were about a second ahead of us at the 1500 metre mark.

“The Czechs and the Germans started to die off and we decided to do everything a wee bit earlier than we were supposed to, otherwise we wouldn’t have got the medal.

“We were a second and a half behind the Romanians and 0.1 second behind the Polish. It was a photo finish. We were all sat in the water, and we were beside the Polish crew, and we didn’t know what happened.

“We had to wait on the umpire and race officials to come and say we were third. We looked at the photo finish and it was a hair width’s difference, but that’s what it comes down to.

“I am still happy enough to come away with something.”