Posted: 8th June 2015

The ancient and noble sport of canoeing has recently been rekindled in Clongowes Wood College. Previously Clongowes was a Schools’ Canoeing powerhouse especially in 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Clongowes had many years of friendly rivalry with The King’s Hospital, another stronghold of paddling. Both Schools completed for the Prestigious Peter Storm team trophy and Patrick Maloney (OC’88) and Eddie Martin (OC’86) raced together in the Clongowes team during the 1980s. Now through their sons Tadhg Maloney (Grammar) and Oscar Martin (Elements) Clongowes Canoeing again received a new lease of life at the recent Junior Liffey Descent held on May 23rd.

In early May my dad entered the three of us in the 2015 Junior Liffey Descent. I raced a K1 (a very unstable single racing kayak) and Aran and Oscar Martin (Elements) raced a K2 (a two man racing kayak). My dad decided he would take us for some pre race training sessions before the big day, beginning on the day after the Bicentenary Ball, when he got up early to take us training. On Wednesday May 20th after school we spent four hours practicing the entire racecourse. He showed us all how to shoot the four weirs (man-made waterfalls) and tackle the portage (get out of your boat and run as fast as you can with the boat on your back). On Thursday we had a further light training session on Leixlip Lake at Salmon Leap Canoe Club

On Race Day the club was a hive of activity as Oscar and I arrived at the race start, with people, cars and boats parked everywhere. It was a hectic scene and getting onto the water was tricky. I nearly capsized when someone beside me lost their balance and grabbed my boat; luckily I managed to stay afloat. The portage was our first obstacle to negotiate and it was agonizing. I was already tired and still had 9kms more to go and some scary flooded weirs to shoot. It took me just over an hour to complete the 11km race to the finish line at the Strawberry Beds including an unintentional ‘swim’ at the Wren’s Nest Weir.

The partnership of Aran Maloney and Oscar Martin (Elements) proved successful with the pair winning the U15 K2 event in their first start together, while I competed in the U18 K1 event and was placed 5th in a very competitive age group.

Tadhg Maloney (Grammar)

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