Boat clubs gear up for Colours clash

Famous boat race returns on the 25th of March

Dublin University Boat Club (DUBC) and Dublin University Ladies Boat Club (DULBC) will return to the lower Liffey on March 25 for the historic Colours Boat Races against University College Dublin.

Based on the iconic Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, Colours is raced head-to-head across two kilometres, from O’Connell Bridge to James’ Gate, between four VIII’s from each university: Novice Men’s, Novice Women’s, Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s. The Novice men and women will race for the Dan Quinn Shield and the Sally Moorhead Trophy respectively, while their Senior counterparts will fight it out for the Gannon and Corcoran Cups. The reserve races between the second novice VIII’s and the intermediate VIII’s will take place in Islandbridge on March 24.

2022 saw a UCD three-peat, with the crews in blue and saffron claiming wins in the Novice Women’s and Senior Men’s and Women’s categories. A win in the Dan Quinn by the DUBC Novice men was the only spoils from Colours to fall to Trinity, and two members of that VIII will race in the Gannon for DUBC this year, a notable accomplishment. Similarly, María Mezquita García-Poggio, a 2022 Novice for DULBC, will this year race in the Corcoran Cup for the Senior Women’s VIII.

Colours 2023 is of additional significance as for the first time in the history of this storied battle, all four clubs are led by women. Isabel Ormiston-Doyle is the first female captain in the 187-year history of DUBC, while Shauna Fitzsimons is the first female captain in the 106-year history of UCDBC. Alicia O’Neill has returned to captain DULBC for a second season, while Ellie Scott leads UCDLBC. Unquestionably a significant step forward for the role of women in two clubs which place immense value upon their history and traditions, both Ormiston-Doyle and Fitzsimons will face a severe test of their mettle as they cox their crews up the Liffey on the 25th. The day will also be marked by having its first female umpire in the shape of Aoife Byrne, a DULBC alumna who rowed for College from 2016/172019/20.

The four captains took part in the Coin Toss to decide which station each crew will row on March 5, on the steps of College’s Dining Hall. With Thomas Byrne TD, Minister for Sport and Physical Education, presiding both DULBC and DUBC won, with O’Neill and Ormiston-Doyle choosing to row on the North Station. 

Following the cancellation of Colours 2020 and 2021, 2019 was the last time a Senior crew from College claimed Colours glory, with both the Corcoran Cup draped in black, white and pink for the year, while DUBC last won the Gannon in 2018. A period of dominance for UCD has followed since, however, with the UCD women taking home the Bank of Ireland trophy for women’s VIII’s at the 2022 University Championships, as well as winning the Intermediate 8+ at the 2022 National Championships. The UCD men, meanwhile, have been undisputedly the top men’s club in the country for some time now, a recent highlight including a clean sweep of the Novice, Club, Intermediate and Senior VIII’s at the 2022 National Championships.

The classic rivalry between College and UCD means that Colours is always a hotly anticipated affair, however, and 2023 is shaping up to be no different. While the UCD Senior women and DUBC Senior men have not yet raced this season, the UCD Senior men and DULBC Senior women have shown promising form over the winter, with positive results for both clubs at Lagan and Erne Heads of the River. With every crew failing to have gone head-to-head with their equivalents save the Novice men so far this year, the outcomes of the 2023 showdown are far from known.


Sally MoorheadTrophy: 12:30 

Dan Quinn Shield: 13:00

Corcoran Cup: 13:30

Gannon Cup: 14:00

Jane Prendergast

Jane Prendergast is Co-Sports Editor of Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister student of Law.