Student Athletes head to Tokyo Olympics

UCC Student Athletes representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics


UCC Sport is very proud to have a number of undergraduates and graduates participating in this summers Tokyo Olympics.  All our undergraduates are members of the UCC Rowing club while, our graduates are representing in both rowing and athletics.

We wish them all the very best of luck over the coming weeks.  Stay tuned on our social media accounts @UCCSport for regular updates.

Ronan Byrne

Age: 23

Event: Men’s Double Scull (M2X) with Philip Doyle

Titles: World silver 2019, European bronze 2020

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Comes from Ballinlough, Co Cork, has been rowing since 2011 and is a winner of an U-23 World Championships title in the single scull. He is a member of UCC Rowing Club, where he is studying Nutritional Science. Named World Rowing’s ‘Rising Star’ in his break out year of 2019. With Doyle, won World Championship silver which qualified the boat for the Olympics


Paul O Donovan

Age: 27

Event: Lightweight Men’s Double Scull (LM2X) with Fintan McCarthy

Titles: Four World titles (Lwt single 2016, 2017; Lwt double 2018, 2019)

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Studying medicine in UCC, he is widely regarded as one of the best rowers in the world in the lightweight class. Apart from four consecutive World Championships and a silver medal in Rio, he has two gold and two silver European Championship medals. With McCarthy, the pair have dominated the field this year with the boat set up to be competitive in Tokyo.


Emily Hegarty

Age: 23

Event: Women’s Four with Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh

Titles: World U23 Championships 2019 silver

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Another from the prolific Skibbereen school, she was raised on a farm in Moonagh, Aughadown in Co Cork. She said she couldn’t catch or kick a ball so started rowing in 2009 on the now famous Ilen River, where the rowing club is situated. Currently a student studying Biological Sciences in UCC, highlights include winning silver medal at the 2019 World U23 Rowing Championships.





Aoife Casey

Age: 22

Event: Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (LW2X) with Margaret Cremen

Titles: European U23 silver 2020

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Began rowing in her hometown of Skibbereen in 2009, although the sport was in her blood long before that as her father is the current Irish coach, Dominic Casey. At the moment she is studying Medical and Health Sciences at UCC and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by finishing third in their final behind the USA and Switzerland at the World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne earlier this year.




Margaret Cremen

Age: 22

Event: Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (LW2X) with Aoife Casey

Titles: European U23 silver 2020

Club: UCC Rowing Club

From Rochestown, Co Cork, Cremen took up rowing at 14-years-old. She is currently studying Sports Studies and Physical Education with Irish in UCC, where she does her rowing. She qualified the boat with Casey at the Lucerne regatta in May of this year. Won silver at the 2020 European U23 Championships in Duisburg, alongside current partner, Casey.




Tara Hanlon

Age: 23

Event: Women’s Fours (reserve)

Titles: European U23 Championships Bronze 2020; World U23 Silver 2018, 2019; Irish Rowing Champion 2016;

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Tara is studying Bachelor of Commerce and is a member of UCC Rowing Club since coming to UCC. She has been actively involved in the UCC club – she is current club PRO despite her heavy commitments on the water.  Tara also came 5th in the Women’s Pair at the World Cup II in Lucerne in May 2021 and in the Women’s Pair at the European Senior Championships in Oct 2020.



Lydia Heaphy

Age: 23

Event: Lightweight Women’s (reserve)

Titles: European U23 Championships in the Lightweight Women’s Double Gold 2020; Rowing World Cup Silver 2021.

Club: UCC Rowing Club

Lydia is studying Law and a member of UCC Rowing. She started rowing with Skibbereen in 2009 and has continued to excel ever since. Lydia’s highlights include competing at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull. Lydia also won the Senior eight at the Irish Rowing Championships in 2018, as an all Skibbereen eight.



Aifric Keogh

Age: 28

Event: Women’s Four with Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty

Titles: European silver 2021, European bronze 2020

Club: UCC Rowing Club

The most experienced of the crew, she started rowing in 2006 and has been a member of the High-Performance team for several years. Hometown is Na Forbacha, Co Galway but studied Food Microbiology in UCC. Illness caused her to miss most of 2019 but made it back for the World Championships and it has been an upward curve since then.



Fintan McCarthy

Age: 24

Event: Lightweight Men’s Double Scull (LM2X) with Paul O’Donovan

Titles: World Champion 2019, European Champion 2021

Club: Skibbereen RC

With Paul O’Donovan, he has been unbeatable this season winning the recent European Championships. Made it to the 2019 European Championship final with his brother Jake. But his class became more evident and he beat Paul’s brother Gary, who won Olympic silver in Rio, to the Olympic seat on the boat and has proven his worth at every outing.



Phil Healy

Age: 26

Event: 200m/400m/4x400m Mixed Relay

Club: Bandon AC

Ireland’s fastest woman, Healy has built on her fourth place finish at the European Indoor Championship 400m earlier this year to cement her place in Tokyo with a string of consistent performances. She secured her 14th national title in claiming the 200m and 400m gold medals in June, Healy has a 400m best of 51.50 which was set at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast back in May, placing her third on all-time list behind Joanne Cuddihy and Karen Shinkins. First Irish woman to compete in three track events at the same Olympics.




Aoife Cooke

Age: 34

Event: Marathon

Club: Eagle AC

Enjoying a second coming after a promising junior career, Cooke timed her run to Tokyo to perfection. Despite all the restrictions around Covid-19, Cooke won the Cheshire Elite Marathon in April, just under a minute inside the necessary standard of 2:29:30, improving her personal best by almost four minutes to 2:28:36 and also moving her to number four on the all-time Irish list, only the fifth Irish woman to break 2:30. Cooke also works as a fitness instructor and is outspoken on the campaign for gay and lesbian inclusiveness in sport.



Louise Shanahan


Event: 800m

Club: Leevale AC

A PhD researcher in quantum physics at Cambridge University, her father Ray was also Irish 1,500m indoor champion. Shanahan secured her place at the Games in the most dramatic of fashions, the bonus points achieved from her national 800m title proving vital in her quest for Olympic qualification. Shanahan was ranked 51st going into the national championships before moving inside that all important top-48 positions with the gold medal display in a time of 2:03.62. Won the national 1,500m title in 2020 and went on to secure an 800m best of 2:01.44 at the Mary Peters Track, Belfast in May.