ROWING: MCB are kings of Erne

Methodist College Belfast were crowned winners of the Craig Cup, the Under-16 championship for Ulster schools rowing in Enniskillen.

The annual event took place on the Killyhevlin Straight, directly in front of the Killyhevlin Hotel.

The course was chosen by the 2007 winners of the event, Portora Royal School to be held on their home waters of Lough Erne.

The prestigious event attracted many of the top junior boys crews in the country. Methody battled through to the final, defeating Coleraine Academical Institution on the way by a convincing margin of four lengths.

MCB faced a tougher challenge in the final where they came up against Portora Royal, the defending champions who had themselves earlier defeated tow fast crews from Bann Rowing Club and RBAI in a very tight race where there was little distance between crews at the finish.

The Methody crew entered the final as the underdogs to a more experienced and drilled Portora crew who many had fancied to retain the title. Both crews made fast starts and coming down the course there was very little to separate the two crews.

The Methody crew knew that they would have to be quick off the starting pontoons if they were to hold off the opposition. Racing side by side past the half way mark and holding on to Portora, Methody entered the final stretch full of belief that an upset was on the cards and they duly delivered. Stroked by Simon Hewitt, Methody increased their rating and pulled through Portora, moving steadily away as they approached the 1500metre finish line.

In doing so the crew coached by E Marron and M Forsythe became the first Methody crew since 2003 to bring the cup back to Belfast and the River Lagan.

This great achievement will stand them in good stead as they now focus on the Irish Championships in July where they will compete against crews from throughout Ireland.

As holders Methody will host the event in Belfast next year, where it is sure to attract much attention as these schools look for revenge and Methody look to defend their title against the likes of Belfast rivals RBAI.