President and Taoiseach hail Ireland’s Olympic gold rowers

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Ireland’s president has led the congratulations to the country’s history-making rowing gold medallists Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.

Michael D Higgins hailed the Co Cork duo for their “tremendous achievement” in winning the lightweight double sculls in Toyko.

The Skibbereen pair landed Ireland’s first ever Olympic gold in rowing.

Their victory came a day after Ireland won their first medal of the Olympics when Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty took bronze in the final of women’s rowing fours.

President Higgins tweeted: “After the magnificent success in women’s rowing yesterday, today we celebrate Ireland’s first Olympic gold medal in rowing, won so deservedly by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in the lightweight double sculls.

“Theirs is a tremendous achievement, which gives great inspiration to young people and aspiring athletes all over Ireland.”

The gold is Ireland’s first since boxer Katie Taylor won in London 2012 and the country’s 10th overall in summer Games.

There were celebrations overnight in Skibbereen.

At the McCarthy house, Fintan’s parents, Tom and Sue, spoke of their pride.

“It’s so overwhelming,” Mr McCarthy told RTE.

“Absolutely delighted. They’ve worked so hard and they were pushed and they delivered and it’s amazing.”

Fintan’s mother added: “There are no words to describe it. Pride just doesn’t cover it – it is so much more than that.

“We hoped beyond hope that they would (win). They were on form, they’ve been on form all season and it seems that no-one could touch them. So we just hoped that that would be the case again today and they didn’t let us down.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin also offered his congratulations.

“An outstanding gold medal for Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy,” he tweeted.

“Breathtaking victory in the lightweight double sculls – a race that will live long in history.

“A special day for Irish rowing and the Irish people.”

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