National Championships, 2000 ~ Third in ’98, second in ’99, surely this had to be our year. The Club needed a win. Garda hadn’t won the Senior VIII Championship in seventeen years! A total of nine crews had entered. When Skibbereen and NUIG withdrew, it left seven crews to fight it out for the ‘Big Pot’. We faced Neptune, UCD and a Commercial/Lady Victoria/UCC composite crew (lightweights) in the heat. We raced to qualify coming in third in our heat. The other heat saw Trinity eliminated with the Under 23 Composite and Tribesmen qualifying. Conditions for the final were perfect. The lineup was Garda in lane one, Neptune in lane two, the lightweights in lane three, Tribesmen in lane four and the Under 23 squad in lane five. Graham Tolan recalls the build up to the race:
Before we went on the water Club Captain John Dillon and Coach Brendan Duane ‘circled the wagons’. Team manager Willie Ryan and Club President Peter Fitzgerald offered their words of encouragement. This was it. All the hard work! The sacrifices! It was time to stand up and be counted. As Brendan said, it was time to show whether we were ‘Men or Mice’!
At the 250 metre mark Garda led the field by one foot, a canvas at 500 metre, which was increased to a third of a length ahead of the Under 23 composite at the 1,000 metres. In complete control of the race, our senior crew upped the rate and increased their lead over the second half of the course to win the Championship by over one length, in a time of five minutes forty-seven seconds. Four seconds ahead of the Under 23 composite, the lightweights came third, Tribesmen fourth and Neptune fifth. At last the gap of seventeen years had been bridged. The Garda Síochána Boat Club had got the new millennium off to a fitting start. Under the heading ‘Changing of the Guard’ The Irish Times (17/7/00) reported:
In a fitting end to what had been an outstanding Championship, a powerful Garda crew pulled out all the stops to win the men’s senior eights title at the National Rowing Centre at Farran Wood in Cork. Garda taking their first senior title since 1983, rated 46 to open an early lead over the Irish U 23 eight, who got up to a stunning 48, and held them off to the end with push after push after push as the big crowd roared them home in perfect conditions.
Irish Senior VIII Champions, 2000
Bow Kenny McDonald (5) Declan Quinn
(2) Donal Keating (6) Graham Tolan
(3) Ciaran Hoey (7) Tom Colsh
(4) Brendan Duke Str. Donal Corry
Cox Tony Morrissey
Coaches Brendan Duane, Willie Ryan and Pat Grace