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Fassbender, Graham Norton & th...
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Fassbender, Graham Norton & the O'Donovans walk into a bar...

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

17:43 20 Jan 2021

Irish rowing Olympian Paul O'Donovan joined Off The Ball for a catch-up - and let us into a glitzy night out after The Graham Norton Show.

Paul, and brother Gary, made headlines in 2016 after their performances in the men's lightweight double sculls in Rio.

These headlines were not limited to Ireland, and Paul explained how an appearance on The Graham Norton Show led to an unexpected night out.

"Graham, Michael and James took myself and the brother out to dinner then, and were chatting to them. They were real nice lads."

Just in case you were wondering, that is Graham Norton, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.

"I'm not great at names, so I'm trying not to say the wrong ones!

"They were just very nice, down-to-earth lads and it was a good grounding for us, because they were bigger superstars than we were, so it was a nice grounding for us.

Graham Norton

So was it a big session?

"We're athletes, we were sensible - come on, now.

"We were nearly thinking that [everyone would go home after the show], but they were like 'we're going for a bite of grub, do you want to join?'

"We said 'sure, we've no other plans, we might as well' - it was a nice evening and a good experience."

It appears the man-crush that envelopes most men when it comes to Fassbender has claimed another victim.

"He is unbelievable, a class act. A good-looking chap as well. He has everything, he has it all."

Paul O'Donovan & training

Whatever about the trappings of success, do the difficult conditions of an Irish winter help in competition?

"We noticed it when we went to competitions in the earlier years, there would have been windy regatta venues.

"We always used to pick on the Austrians for this, they must have no wind there because any time there was a bit of chop on the water, they couldn't handle it!

"We used to excel in our younger days, beating people that maybe we wouldn't have beaten the day before."

Skibbereen appears to offer a particular advantage.

"I did a lot more training in Skib this year than the National Rowing Centre. Down there is a different ball game again, because it's just a bit further south-west and it's windier and choppier.

"One of the first days I was out there, we were like 'What the hell kind of rowing is this?! How the hell did we do this?!"

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