Salmon Leap’s Liffey delight

by Gazette Reporter

ON A GLORIOUS autumn day, Jenny Egan and her brother Peter made it a family double while former European junior champion Ronan Foley made a winning debut in his first senior race at the 60th Liffey Descent canoe marathon on Saturday.

In the men’s K2 class, three boats had broken away early on in the race, and halfway through the race at Lucan weir, they were still together.

Foley and Danish partner Nikolai Thomsen were lying second behind Neil Fleming and Barry Watkins at Lucan weir with Argentinian pair Sebastien Fergauven and Sebastien Jocano right behind them.

“We paddled pretty consistently throughout the race and then sprinted up and took the lead about a kilometre from the finish,” said Foley, a previous junior K1 winner in the race, who was paddling K2 for the first time.

With waters high for the first time in many years, their time was 1 hour 46 minutes 40 seconds gave them victory by nine seconds over Fleming and Watkins. It was just off the course best of 1 hour 40 minutes set in 2016.

Finishing first mixed K2 in a new best time of 1 hour 51 minutes 52 seconds were Jenny Egan and her fiancé Jonathan Simmons of Salmon Leap Canoe Club. It means that Egan has an almost perfect record in this category with seven wins in K2 boats alone since her first Liffey Descent in 2003.

“We finished four minutes faster than in 2015 when we also set a record. It was my 16th Liffey Descent and we’re delighted,” said Egan.

Brother Peter was winning men’s K1 for the first time in a long career. “I’ve finished third many times in K1 and had a few wins in K2. I’m 40 now and it’s taken me that long,” he said. His time was 1:57 43.

Winning the Over-59 class was Malcolm Banks, another prolific winner at the race down the years and another Salmon Leap club member. Banks won his first of many Liffey Descent titles in 1978. “I’m lucky to have had such a long career and as long as I am able, I’ll continue. I’ve a demanding job and when I’m out paddling all the stress of the job is gone,” he says.

The Leixlip-based club was having a good day and finishing second in mixed K2 were Deaglain O Drisceoil and Aisling Smith, both of them previous winners in various categories.

Among other winners for the club were Gary Mawer and Simon van Lonkhuysen who were taking a third consecutive victory in the men’s over 39 K2 class, with their club mates David Francis and Declan Halton finishing second.

A solid winner of women’s K1 class C was Ciara Gurhy of Wild Water Kayak Club in Chapelizod.

Winning the trophy for best club – based on the combined best times in K1 and K2 – was Salmon Leap Canoe Club.

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