Young Rowers Lead the Way at Provinces Indoor Competition

Up-and-coming talent shone brightly at the Provinces Indoor Rowing competition in Limerick today. The fastest over the 2,000 metres on the day was a junior 18 competitor – Andrew O’Leary of Presentation College set a time of six minutes 15.1 seconds.
The best time in the men’s open category went to another competitor from a Cork club, Eamonn Joyce of Cork Boat Club. He clocked 6:15.3, while the fastest under-23 man was Ciarán O’Connell of University of Limerick, with a time of 6:31.2.
Another young competitor, Rian Claffey of Athlone set a fine time – he is a junior 16 rower, yet took just six minutes 31.9 in his win in this class.
An under-23 competitor set the fastest time for a woman. Chris Kirwan of University of Limerick Rowing Club covered the 2,000 metres in 7:07.7.
Kate Healy, also of University of Limerick, won the Open class with a time of seven minutes 10.6 seconds. Her clubmate, Roisín Mertz was her closest challenger, on 7:16.2.
Laoise Phillips of St Michael’s set the fastest time in the women’s junior 18 category – 7:32.9 – while Roisín Byrne of Offaly Rowing Club set a good time of 7:42.5 in the women’s junior 16 2,000 metres.
Pic: Andrew O’Leary with Noah Giltinan.

Maxwell New President on Day of Change and Revelations

Delegates to the annual general meeting of Rowing Ireland in Dublin elected Neville Maxwell (above) as their new president, chose to pass all the constitutional changes proposed by the board and heard of some serious disciplinary activity during the year.
Maxwell defeated Mick O’Callaghan by 52 votes to 21. O’Callaghan, from Lee Valley, had spoken of the disenchantment with the board amongst clubs.
Maxwell thanked O’Callaghan for a fair battle and said: “We need to pull together; work together and bring our sport forward.”
The Neptune man, who represented Ireland as a rower in two Olympic Games, spoke of the dedicated volunteers in the sport and the opportunities ahead.
“We are in a great spot and we work together we can be the number one sport for clubs as well as internationals.”
O’Callaghan offered his congratulations. “We had a fair contest. We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago, agreed it would all be positive. We totally support the new board.”
“We need to have honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I will be watching you closely, Neville. And if there is anything you want from me come and ask.”
A majority of 75 per cent was needed for the changes in the way Rowing Ireland will be run going forward. Constitutional reform was passed by 76.7 per cent. There were bigger majorities for stripping the president of automatic right to be board chair (77.5); working with six directors, one each from the provinces and new ones for coastal and athlete representation (88.7). Eighty one per cent agreed that the treasurer will no longer be an elected role from next year.
The vote for Secretary was won by the incumbent, Nessa Foley, who beat Emily Dulohery by 49 votes to 23. The vote on the Treasurer saw Paul Kavanagh of Fermoy beat the incumbent, Leo Gibson of Old Collegians, by 40 votes to 31.
Garth Young, the current chair of the High Performance Committee, was forthright in his criticisms and demand for change in the constitution.
He said there were numerous meetings to address “constant undermining of board”. A solicitor was paid €80,000 for an investigation and 78 pages of alleged wrongdoing were generated. These related to data breaches, inappropriate sharing of information and email misuse. “Our ceo has been threatened,” he added.
He said the constitution was “a huge opportunity to embrace change and leap forward”. The people in charge had “no control” in certain situations and spoke of Rowing Ireland being “the victims of individuals’ behaviour” and not being able to address it under the present constitution.
“The constitution was in a poor state,” said Martin Hogan, who chaired the meeting, and the people in charge were doing their best. “We shouldn’t condone poor behaviour.”
He said that due to disciplinary issues one person had stepped back from all activity in rowing for five years and another, following a disciplinary process, has agreed to step back from committee and branch activity for two years.
Hogan laid out the funding situation for the year: “We got over two million from Sport Ireland. Over 99 per cent of funding comes from Sport Ireland.”
A number of delegates had questions relating to the status of the constitution approved last year. Hogan said that due to cost issues and after advice had been taken it was decided to put changes to this year’s meeting.
Pat Kiely gave a talk on safety. He urged clubs to make submissions to the Government on the new Code of Practice on Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.
He said clubs should have a Safety Statement; an Emergency Action Plan; and a Safety Self Assessment.
He also said that Rowing Ireland will be bringing a new booklet on safety, built around the equivalent document for the UK.

Awards

Volunteer of Year: Shane Russell of Whitegate Rowing Club (organiser of Irish Coastal Championships)
Rowability: Rory O’Brien, Galway RC
Women in Sport Advocate: Aisling Flanagan, Athlone BC
Coach of the Year: Conor Breen, St Joseph’s RC
High Performance Rower of Year: Katie O’Brien, Galway RC
Up-and-Coming Rower of the Year: Brian Colsh, University of Galway RC
Umpire of the Year: Kayla McCann, St Michael’s RC
Senior Rower of Year: David Sommers, UCD
Club of the Year: Athlone Boat Club
Outstanding Achievement of the Year: Alison Bergin, Fermoy RC (pictured with Paul McDermott) 
Presented by Paul McDermott of Sport Ireland

 

 

Hosts and University of Limerick fast at Skibbereen Head

Skibbereen’s men’s club one eight clocked 10 minutes seven seconds to come fastest at the Skibbereen Head of the River at the Marina in Cork.
The University of Limerick senior men’s quadruple was the fastest in their class. Their time of 10 minutes 29 seconds was 10 seconds faster than the composite men’s quadruple. Lee’s junior men’s quadruple were the fastest in this class in 11 minutes flat.
The fastest women’s sculler was junior competitor Holly Davis of Lee Valley, who took 13 minutes and 43 seconds to cover the course. Finn O’Reilly of Skibbereen (pic) was the fastest senior man – by one second from Kealan Mannix of University of Limerick.
The worst of the wind and rain came as the event was finishing up.

Galway Crews and Trinity Do Well at Erne Fours Head

Galway crews had a good outing at the Erne Fours Head today. The University of Galway senior womens’ quad was the fastest women’s crew by 14 seconds from from Queen’s senior quad in the women’s fours head, run in flat-calm conditions (pic courtesy Her Sport live coverage).
The fastest men’s four were the University of Galway’s senior men’s crew, while the St Joseph’s men’s junior 18 quadruple were the fast winners at their level.
Trinity’s men’s senior quadruple came home fastest of all, in 16 minutes 50.1 seconds, in more windy conditions.
Castleconnell women’s quads took the honours at the both the junior 18 and junior 16 level.

Big Issues Before Rowing Ireland AGM

Votes on constitutional change and elections for president, secretary and treasurer make Sunday’s agm of Rowing Ireland one of the most momentous in its history.

 The changes, which require 75 per cent support to be adopted, concern removing the power of the president to automatically chair Board meetings; dispensing with the post of honorary treasurer and adopting a new way of nominating directors, which would cut the provincial representation and add nominations from coastal/offshore and athletes. The fourth change up for consideration from club delegates concerns a reform of the constitution.

 There have been a series of roadshows on the proposed changes.

 Sport Ireland has made it clear that present funding is not directly linked to any change. Funding for carded High Performance athletes is unaffected by policies of governing bodies.

 The presidential race pits two men with very different profiles against each other.

  Neville Maxwell has been an international athlete and a long-time Board member, chairing the High Performance Committee of Rowing Ireland. He was a major player in bringing on board the present high performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni.

 Mick O’Callaghan, though heavily involved with international rowing for years and a force behind the development of the National Rowing Centre, has been a critic of the Board and has run his campaign on the need to put clubs and volunteers at the centre of thinking going forward.

 The Board has been without a president since March, when Susan Dunlea resigned.

 The election for Secretary sees Emily Dulohery take on Nessa Foley and Paul Kavanagh challenges Leo Gibson for the Treasurer’s post.

 The reports to the agm include a characteristically strong one from Maurogiovanni: under his charge 15 athletes in Olympic-class boats won medals this year – in total, Ireland crews won 19 medals. He says 27 athletes should qualify for carding.

 His worries include the shape of the domestic season, with an Irish Championships in July clashing with his plans for international athletes – the programme for the 2023 season will be adopted before the agm.

 Maurogiovanni also says that ‘exclusive use” of the National Rowing Centre was a positive factor in moving on from the “toxic environment” which was found to have existed in the run to Rio 2016.

 This week a review found continuing reservations amongst athletes about the environment in the present high performance programme.  

 Maurogiovanni has a bigger team and says it is clear that funding must increase, or the “difficult decision to downsize the team” would have to be made.

 The reports to the agm contain myriad details. The pay of the employees of Rowing Ireland is outlined: at the top end, one person earns between €110,000 and €120,000, two are on €70,000 to €80,000 and one is on €80,000 to €90,000.

 Rowing Ireland ran a small surplus, €4,353, for 2021.

Skibbereen and Erne Fours Heads Draw Big Entries

Two big events in Munster and Ulster should give a lift-off to the rowing season on Saturday.
The Skibbereen Head of the River at the Marina in Cork has 521 crews entered, with approximately 300 in fixed heads. One interesting entry is the composite quadruple featuring Gary O’Donovan and Ronan Byrne, with Ryan Spelman and Colm Hennessy.
The forecast is for wet and sometimes windy weather, but the Marina has a good record of holding events in weather which would be difficult at other venues.
Enniskillen Fours Head has 62 men’s crews entered and 57 women’s.
The first head of the day is the women’s race, which goes off at 11 o’clock, with the senior quadruple from the University of Galway (the former NUIG) leading it out. The men’s race off at 2 o’clock. The senior Queen’s quadruple is the first crew off.

Presidential Candidates Make Their Case

The two candidates for President of Rowing Ireland outlined their policy positions. Here they are in full:

Michael (Mick) O Callaghan, rowing supporter & candidate for President
I joined Shandon Boat Club on the Marina, Cork as a Junior rower in 1963 and was honoured to be elected as a Life Member in 1989. I enjoyed my time as a rower, committee member, Secretary, Captain and coach of this great club. When the Irish Amateur Rowing Union decided to establish the National Rowing and Community Resource Centre in Farran Woods, FISA advised it would be essential to have a local rowing club attached to the centre to ensure the success of the development. As there was no rowing club in the Mid-Cork area, I agreed to take on this task. With the support of the local Community, Lee Valley Rowing Club was established, and the club has indeed proved that FISA were correct.

With the experience gained in the various roles in both clubs and other committees, I have gained a good knowledge of how to lead a successful NGB of Sport. I was honoured to be elected as provincial representative and vice-president on the Rowing Ireland Board. During my term on the Board, I played a significant role in a decision that has had a major impact on the sport, the developing the National Rowing Centre. When the Irish Sports Council was established the Minister for Sport appointed me to the High Performance sub-committee as one of two representatives from HP sports. This committee played a major role in establishing the criteria for funding of High Performance Sport and the Athlete Carding Scheme.

I have coached and managed with success at club and international level and have been Chairperson of the Championships, Home International and Coupe organising committee I have a clear understanding of the supports required to ensure that our sport continues to develop at all levels.

Like all sports rowing has made progress in the recent past with Government support through Sport Ireland. Targeted support for specific programmes like coach education, women in sport, child protection, etc. have been excellent. Rowing Ireland administration and High Performance staff has been professionalised and while this is a welcome development, volunteers have been almost totally excluded. This and the proposals to reduce the influence of the clubs on decision making has resulted in a lowering of morale, a disconnect with the clubs and a reluctance of members to volunteer for rowing events and other committees. This oversight will have an adverse effect on the sport in the future.

For 120 years, Rowing Ireland has been governed excellently by a Board chaired by the President elected by the affiliated rowing clubs. Every President elected was a real rowing person who could relate to the needs of our clubs. This has meant that transparency, accountability and consultation has always been to the fore. If elected as President, I guarantee this long tradition will continue.

Mick O Callaghan

Neville Maxwell Candidate for President of Rowing Ireland 

I am writing to you to ask for your club’s support and vote in the upcoming election for President of Rowing Ireland. In what follows I will outline my background in the sport and present my future strategy as President of Rowing Ireland which will be built on inclusion, collaboration and teamwork. 

My Backgroun

Born and raised in Galway, rowing has always been in my family, and I have been involved in the world of rowing from a young age. 

i competed as a rower for St Joseph’s RC, UCG, and Neptune Rowing Club, winning 23 Irish Championships. I competed internationally for Ireland at Home International, Junior, and Senior World Championship levels, winning 2 silver and 2 bronze medals in the LWT Men’s 2-. Without doubt, the pinnacle of my career was the opportunity to compete at two Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000, while rowing in the LWT men’s 4-. I owe so much to my club coaches, crewmates, and the volunteers who supported us for the successes achieved in my rowing career. Whenever I reflect on these experiences, it is clear our success was built upon a solid foundation of collaboration and teamwork. 

Professionally I have worked with New Ireland Assurance for over 20 years in various roles, and now I have responsibility for the distribution of our National Pension Master Trust. I have been a volunteer board member of Rowing Ireland since 2016, when I was co-opted on as an independent director before moving to the role of Connaught representative. I was brought onto the board due to my knowledge of high-performance rowing and my experiences of working in business, to lead the review of our then HP system. I used such experience in business management and my understanding of our sport to create a working group that undertook this review. Through speaking with athletes, coaches, and clubs, we oversaw the creation of a sustainable HP Team structure that is now producing results previously only dreamt of. 

Every club and rower across this country has contributed to the success Irish rowing has become in the last few years and long may it continue. The benefits of the structure are something I am immensely proud of, and I hope that same sense of pride is felt in your own club as well. I stepped down as chair in 2021 after four fulfilling years in this role and I believe now is the time to use my experience, knowledge, and passion for our sport to support every single one of our rowing clubs. 

Clubs The Backbone of Rowing in Ireland 

The strengths of our clubs are clear to all, but that is not to say there are no more obstacles to overcome. The biggest of these being how to reconnect and support one another in a postCovid landscape. Clubs are the lifeblood and foundation of our sport. Club membership is growing across flatwater and coastal rowing, junior to senior, and masters to recreational rowing. Our clubs are held together by volunteers who selflessly dedicate their time to creating a safe and fun environment for us all to participate, and I believe it is essential that we as Rowing Ireland work together to provide support and assistance when needed. I will ensure that we are all working collectively and support one another to underpin the great work being done by all our clubs in the North and South, the East and West. The pandemic prevented many of us from getting out onto the water and interacting with our communities, so I believe now is the time to properly reconnect with and rediscover our shared passion for rowing. 

My Strategy 

I am dedicated to serving you and making your clubs and community strong by leading and creating a forward-looking strategy that is shaped by our clubs, committees, branches, staff, and board. This strategy must take the successful policies and directives currently implemented in some areas of our sport and recreate them in areas previously neglected. This must be done in all spheres of our sport

  1.  Coaching and Volunteers Facilitate the sharing of best practice across our clubs and national team
  2.  Income Generation for clubs Create sustainable business plans for our clubs to thrive.
  3. Events and Domestic Calendar Shape it to our needs and create a calendar that suits all thprovinces.
  4. Facilities and EquipmentEnsure Government grants and supports are maintained to assist all our clubs, along with a subsidised equipment purchase scheme for all clubs.
  5.  Safety Ensuring all our members participate in a safe sporting environment

To deliver a coherent plan it is key that we work together as a collective to achieve our goals on and off the water. This can only be done through open and honest dialogue that involves all of us. 

Commercial and Developmental Relationships 

We are currently in the perfect place to attract investment into the sport. This has been created through the recognition of rowing as not only our top performing Olympic sport, but also as a sport that enhances and betters our communities. We have established key relationships with various government and commercial partners, and as President I will build on these relationships initiated by past presidents to ensure that funding goes directly to clubs. Growth and development of rowing at the grassroots level that is pursued with your needs in mind can only benefit the sports overall progression and evolution. 

Collaboration 

The main thing to know about me for those of you I have not yet met is that I have rowing in my heart. I want to take on the role of president for the single goal of improving the sport that I love. We can only be successful by listening and taking each other’s opinions on board, by remaining open to communication and by keeping connected. 

I can assure you that I will work tirelessly with high energy and total commitment to our sport and to you, our clubs. I am running for this position solely to support you and make all levels and areas of our sport great. 

I will be a leader for all clubs and provinces. 

Yours in rowing, 

Neville Maxwell 

Neville Maxwell Neptune Rowing Club 

 

Mannix Comes Up Just Short of Bronze at European Beach Sprints

“I’m delighted to be here and to be in for a medal,” Kealan Mannix (pictured) told the interviewer just before his race in the B Final of the men’s solo at the European Rowing Beach Sprint Championships in San Sebastian in Spain.
In the event, the Irishman fell just short. He was beaten by Ales Susky of the Czech Republic in that B Final, so finishing fourth overall.
Mannix had shown persistence and skill to come through to that stage. In the last 16 he took on Karl Schulze of Germany, who had a better time in the time trials. But Mannix was better in the race, especially in transfers into and out of the boat on the beach, and won well.
The Corkman came from behind to win his quarter-final. Austria’s physically impressive Iurii Suchak hit the beach well in the lead, but Mannix jumped out of his boat swiftly and strode across the finish line just ahead of Suchak’s unavailing dive.
In the semi-final, Mannix had hit a buoy and lost out to Zygimantas Galisankis of Lithuania, who would go on to win gold in the A Final, ahead of Spain’s Carlos Gonzalez Buzon.
The venue was spectacular and the event was a success, though more thought needs to be put into coverage and the general organisation if more events of this sort are to held in San Sebastian.
Ireland took a medal on Friday in the endurance events through Ronan Byrne and Natalie Long, but the Beach Sprints were not as productive. Xena Jordan lost to multiple medallist Janneke van der Meulen of the Netherlands in the women’s solo last 16. The Dutch competitor rounded the turning buoy much better and gained an advantage she did not lose.
Michael O’Boyle was beaten in the quarter-final of the Junior (under-19) solo by William Burrows of Britain. A false start seemed to unnerve O’Boyle.
In the mixed double, the Czech Republic were too strong for Miriam Sheehan and David Hussey in the last 16 round.

O’Callaghan and Maxwell Enter Presidential Race

Neville Maxwell and Mick O’Callaghan (above) have entered the race for President of Rowing Ireland.
Maxwell was a double Olympian and is the former chair of the High Performance Committee of Rowing Ireland. O’Callaghan played a big part in the development of the National Rowing Centre in Cork.
The Rowing Ireland agm, set for November 20th, will be an important one, as it will bring centre stage the moves to reform the constitution. The role of the president is also to be decided: whether they will continue to be the chair of the board or hold a more honorary role.

Byrne and Long Race to Bronze at European Coastal and Beach Sprint Championships

Ireland landed one podium finish on the second day of the European Rowing Coastal and Beach Sprint Championships – and might well have had a second.
Natalie Long and Ronan Byrne showed grit and determination to take bronze for Lee Valley and Shandon in the club mixed double. They demonstrated good tactical sense to edge their way into third by one kilometre into the six-kilometre race. They then fought off challenges to maintain that slot behind two crews from Spain.
British-Irish relations were certainly not at their best in the first race of the day.
Patrick Boomer and Miriam Sheehan led the way in the final of the national mixed doubles. France were their main challengers in the fifth kilometre of the six kilometre race. As they rounded a turning buoy Britain came through on the inside, ploughed into the Irish and robbed them of their chance of a medal.
France and Spain swept past as the Irish tried to extricate themselves. The Ireland crew did their best, but Sheehan lost an oar. France won from Spain, while Sheehan and Boomer got home in 10th.
In the club men’s double, Ireland placed sixth through Luke Keaney and David Hussey of Portmagee and Donegal Bay. Sionna Healy of Arklow also took sixth in the club women’s single.