Declan Moriarty, General Manager, Park Hotel presents the May Park Hotel Waterford Sports Star Award to Raymond O’Mahony. Also included are Eoin Whelan, Waterford Boat Club with adjudicators Kieran O’Connor and Ger Lawton. Photo: Sean Byrne.
When you look at the three hundred plus monthly awards that have been awarded since the Park Hotel Waterford Sports Star Awards Scheme came into existence in 1991, the sport of rowing shows three monthly awards. Or at least it did.
However all three awards date back to the very early days of this awards scheme and all three were won by the Murray brothers (Pat and Milo) from Cappoquin. For a sport with such a strong tradition in Waterford, many might find that a little surprising. But fear not because the long wait to add to the list of rowing winners of the Park Award has ended as the monthly winner for the month of May is Raymond O’Mahony from the Dunmore Road in Waterford City.
Raymond, a past pupil of De L Salle College and a member of Waterford Boat Club was part of the Yale University team that won the famous Kilpatrick Cup for taking gold at the Eastern Sprints – the US Annual Rowing Championship for the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC), which took place in Lake Quinsigmond, Worcester, Massachusetts in May.
Raymond has just finished his second year of a rowing scholarship at the world famous Ivy League College in New Haven, Connecticut where he is studying Mechanical Engineering and was a key member of the Lightweight crew that went on to finish third at the National Championships in early June.
At the awards lunch on Friday last, Raymond was joined by his mother Mairead, dad Raymond Snr, brother Cormac, sister Megan, auntie, friends and his coaches from Waterford Boat Club, Eoin Whelan and Al Penkert.
Speaking on behalf of the Park Hotel, General Manager, Declan Moriarty, welcomed the O’Mahony family and their guests and congratulated Raymond on his great achievement with Yale University and wished him the best of luck for the future.
On behalf of the judges, Kieran O’Connor said, “it’s great to have rowing back at these awards, it’s been a long long while since the Murray brothers from Cappoquin were here and it’s great that you have won a fourth monthly award for a great sport. Rowing is a great disciplined sport and it’s great to see Eoin (Whelan) and Al (Penkert) here from Waterford Boat Club because that’s where it all started and it’s a club with a great tradition in the sport and then to go to the States and to get to the level that you are now at is a brilliant achievement. With the competition that’s on the spots on that boat, even to get into the team at such a great University is fantastic and on top of that the fact that you’re stroking from bow side means that the coach must rate you very highly indeed. Rowing is enjoying a great boost at the moment and there’s no doubt that you are helping with this and I know it’s a great boost for Eoin and all the lads in the club as well. Congratulations on your award, you’re thoroughly deserving of joining the great list of winners that we’ve had in these awards since it all began back in 1991 and I’ve no doubt we’ll see you back here again in the future.”
Fellow judge, Ger Lawton, also congratulated Raymond on his award win and said that there was no reason why he couldn’t become Waterford’s own version of the O’Donovan brothers and play his part in highlighting the great sport of rowing in this county and far beyond, as he is already doing.
After only finishing third in the semi-final, the Yale team picked it up for the final. “It was a bit of a surprise in the morning. We came out and we couldn’t quite get it together. We were struggling to even make third. But then we had a talk together that afternoon before the final and as a crew we remained unfazed and stuck together and we had a terrific start in the final and attacked all the way down the course and really showed our strength to come home in front.”
Being so far away from home for most of the year, to be recognised in his home county is something that means a lot to Raymond.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be here today to receive this wonderful award. It’s been a great year and this really tops it off. I’m lucky to be part of a great team and we all get on so well.
“Well it was a huge shock when I got the call to say that I had won this award to be honest. It means more to me than I almost expected. To be acknowledged in your county and to feel such at home with it is astonishing because I was brought up here and this is where it all began and I’d like to thank my family and my coaches who are here today for all they have done and continue to do for me over the years.”
Raymond might be flying high now at one of the top Universities in the world but he will never forget where it all began for him.
“When I was younger I tried a whole lot of different sports, hurling, tae-kwon do, basketball and others but once I started rowing at 14 I instantly took to it and I knew it was the sport that I wanted to do for the rest of my life and since then I’ve basically trained almost every single day an in peak training now I’d train about ten times a week. And with all the other colleges out to take our title we know that we’ll have to put in the hard work to try and do it all again next season.”