St. Josephs College Rowing Club, more commonly referred to as 'The Bish', is located opposite Woodquay pier on the River Corrib in Galway, Ireland. Its membership is closed to pupils of the all-boys secondary school which is situated nearby in Nuns Island. The Club caters to students from J15 level up to the highest Junior level in Ireland, Junior 18A. St. Josephs has a proud history and is one of the most successful junior clubs in Ireland. The Bish almost exclusively competes in Sweep rowing events, although the recent purchase of single sculls has led to renewed participation in this field as well.
The first appearance of St Josephs College Rowing Club came in 1932 where they competed in the Schoolboy Fours event against St. Patricks. A compelling rivalry with another Galway school club, Colaiste Iognaid (The Jes), was quickly formed and this tense rivalry continues today. 1936 saw the first meeting of the two clubs in an Irish Championship and it was the Jes who emerged victorious, winning by 3 lengths. The Anderson Trophy for Junior Eights raced at Galway Regatta has produced some fantastic racing between the two clubs over the years. The Bish acquired its own clubhouse in 1955, with the old Emmets club donating their existing premises to be used by the developing school club.The Junior category was not offered at Irish Championship level until 1964 and The Bish enjoyed some notable success in the early stages of this new rowing level. The club completed a remarkable 3 in a row in the Junior 8 event in 1969, 1970 and 1971 and these wins were also accompanied by success in the Junior 4 event in 1970 and 1971.Another golden period for the club came in 1982-1985 where the club again dominated the Junior 8 category by becoming champions in each of the 4 years. Another Junior 4 championship was acquired in 1987.
Modern Time 1992-2009
A talented young crew captured a coveted double of Junior 8's and 4's in 1992, with the Junior 8 event producing a fantastic racing spectacle. Bish battled with Limerick BC throughout the 2000m Blessington course to emerge victorious by a canvas. The Junior 4's was a less exciting affair with a strong Bish crew easily dispatching of St. Michaels in the final.The next success for the club came in 1995 where they once more captured the Junior 8 title. However, most people will remember the 1995 championships for the enthralling Junior 4 event where excellent crews from Portora and Bish produced a race of the highest quality and excitement. The crews could not be separated over the 1400m distance and a dead heat was adjudged; the first ever to be declared in Junior 18 championship racing. A re-row was ordered and this time Portora secured the title, winning by clear water. Although understandably devastated by the loss, it is testament to the character of the oarsmen that they were able to recuperate and win the Junior 8 event the following day.1996 saw victory for the club in a previously unsuccessful field, the mens Junior 2-. The combination of M. Wison and T. Lohan proved an exceptionally strong one and they delivered the club's first championship in this category. 21st century success
St. Josephs College Rowing Club Junior 18A 8+, Champions of IrelandThe Club would continue its proud legacy in the early stages of the new century. 2000 saw the purchase of a new Empacher 8, signalling the intent of the club members to continue to compete at the highest level. The following year proved to be a highly eventful campaign for the club. A thrilling race at Enniskillen Regatta in 2001 saw St Josephs narrowly defeated by the heavily fancied Neptune Rowing Club Junior 8 crew. The Anderson Cup at Galway Regatta that year also proved to be a memorable affair. The Bish went into the final against The Jes as strong favourites but were beaten by an extremely motivated Colaiste Iognaid crew by a distance of 1 length. The Bish crew then went into intense training ahead of the National Championships in Iniscara and this paid dividends when they caused an upset by winning the Junior 4 event ahead of the fancied Neptune crew. However, the crew were left disappointed when they were beaten by Neptune in the blue ribbon Junior 8 event the following day.
A young crew emerged in 2002 to challenge for the coveted Junior 8 title. They achieved notable success in Ghent regatta where they won the Junior 8 section ahead of a strong German crew, Frankfurter RS Germania. This win was even more impressive when one observes that 6 of the members of the squad were still eligible to compete at Junior 16 level. Unfortunately the squad would experience intense disappointment at the National Championships where they lost a classic Junior 8 race to Neptune by a negligible distance. The potential of this crew however was there for all to see and the Bish would once more enter a golden period which would see them dominate the Junior Sweep categories over the next 3 years.In 2003 the Junior 18 squad travelled to the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta where they competed in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. The crew were unlucky however, to be drawn against a seeded american crew, Belmont Hill School. The Bish were eliminated in the first round after losing by a length and a half. The squad remained confident of success in the national Irish Championships however, and this confidence was justified as they secured the Junior 4 and 8 titles easily.
2004 saw another season of dominance by the Galway club, once again completing the double of Junior 8 and 4 at the National Championships. Club members Ronan Sweeney and Padraig Hawkins would also achieve notable success with the Irish national squad by winning the coxed 4s event at the Coupe de la Jeunesse held in Ravenna, Italy.
In 2005 the club finally completed the clean sweep of Junior events at the National Championships when they won the Junior,2-,4+ and 8+. Another club first was achieved when two St Josephs oarsmen were chosen to represent Ireland at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany. The pair consisted of oarsmen Matty Carroll and Vincent Ruane.
July 2009 sees the school continue this proud record with National Championship wins in the Junior 4+ and 8+.
Future prospectsA massive investment in new equipment by the club in 2003 showed The Bish's intention to remain at the forefront of Junior Mens rowing in Ireland. A strong network of Alumni and parents allows for the effective training of new oarsmen every year with the goal of developing them to compete at the highest levels in Junior 18 standard and beyond. Many Bish oarsmen have gone on to achieve success with the national squad in subsequent years including Neville Maxwell (competed at 1996 Atlanta Olympics) and Alan Martin (current member of Irish Hwt 4- squad).
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