Castle Rowing Club, who call the small yet picturesque village of Ballygally their home, has grown into a 109 member strong club since it was founded in November 2016.
The rapidly growing club boasts a wide range of rowers from the age of 12 upwards with the oldest rower currently being 61 years of age.
Castle encourages everyone to get into the sport, male or female, old or young, competitive or recreational, there is a place for everyone amongst what some have described as one big family. The club produces not only great rowing but also great craic and a sense of camaraderie.
This year saw the club head to their second All Ireland Costal Rowing Championship held in Wexford. The club’s 24 crews were entered over a multitude of categories ranging from under 12’s to Senior and Masters levels, and more than held their own, bringing home seven All Ireland medals. The club was supported this year by their very own mascot, the iconic Ballygally White Bear.
The weekend started as it meant to go on with one of their youngest rowers, the very talented Daniel Lalanza winning a Gold medal in the Under 18 Heritage race in which he rowed composite from Cromane Rowing Club from Kerry. Daniel deserves special mention as this class of boat is not one he was used to rowing. He however accepted the challenge and emerged as an All Ireland champion at the age of 15!
Continuing the winning streak on the Saturday, one of the club’s main men, Stephen Snoddy, aka Sarge, won Gold in the Masters Men’s category in which he rowed composite for Glenarm Rowing Club. Following on with the club’s success, their Pre Vet Ladies, Eilis Magill, Anne Marie McGrath, Jackie Green and Joanne O’Lynn, along with their young coxswain Aoife Magill, brought home bronze in their category concluding the second day of racing.
The final day of racing did not slow down the club’s influx of medals with the Novice Men, James Bell, Davy Wilson, Stephen Rainey, Liam Davies and coxswain John Magill, winning silver in their first ever All Irelands.
In one of the most prestigious categories to row in, Senior Mixed, Castle again emerged victorious with rowers Kieran McKillop, Conor O’Boyle, Leigh Snoddy, Eirin Stewart and coxswain Gordon Millar, winning bronze.
The penultimate medal of the day was a bronze won by the Junior Men’s crew, Chris O’Conor, Anthony O’Neill, Martin McCloskey, Neil Hunter and coxswain Steven Snoddy, in what was a hard fought race that had bystanders on edge.
Last but not least, in what is one of the toughest categories of the competition, the club’s Senior Men’s crew, Liam O’Neill, Conor O’Boyle, Kieran McKillop and Vincent McCrory, along with coxswain Gordon Millar, did the club proud, bringing home a bronze medal. This category was dominated by Antrim coast clubs with Carnlough winning silver and was the crew’s first year moving up to the senior level having previously medalled in the Intermediate Men’s category.
For anyone interested in the club check out their Facebook page @castlerowingclub or email [email protected] for more information.
Training starts with pre-season in January, followed by seasonal training from March and Regatta season from June to August which concludes with the All Ireland Costal Rowing Championships. The Club would like to thank everyone who has come out to support Castle including fellow Antrim Coast Clubs, Glenarm, Carnlough and Whitehead as well as Inver Colpa Rowing Club from Drogheda. They would also like to thank, Ballygally Community Development Association, Mid and East Antrim Council, Irish Coastal Rowing Federation, Antrim Coast Rowing Association and all their member and their families, the local Ballygally community and businesses, for their continued and generous support.