Close Margins as Mannix Last Man Standing for Ireland

It was a day of tiny margins for Ireland at the World Rowing Beach Sprints in Oeiras in Portugal.

 The mixed coxed quadruple competed very well in their quarter-final. David Hussey was first off the mark in the initial sprint and they rowed together competently. They looked to be on course to qualify. However, Sweden managed the transition from the beach to the final sprint better and just pipped the Ireland crew of Sionna Healy, Cormac Kelly, Rosie Temple and Luke Keaney, with Hussey coxing.

 Miriam Sheehan in the solo came ever closer in her bid to win through in her head-to-head race with Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska of Poland to stay in the competition. She sprinted up the beach to the line and fell over it – but was just under half a second slower than the Poland international.

 Kealan Mannix (pictured) made it through in the men’s solo, and will give Ireland a representative in the Sunday finals in Oeiras.  

Great Start by Ireland at World Rowing Beach Sprints

Ireland’s mixed coxed quadruple finished fifth in their time trial and qualified for the top eight at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals at Oeiras in Portugal today. The top five in the time trial made it directly to the A Quarter-Finals.

 The quad is made up of Luke Keaney and Rosy Temple of Donegal Bay, Sionna Healy and Cormac Kelly of Arklow, with David Hussey of Portmagee as cox.

 The mixed double (pictured) of David Hussey and Aoife Lynch finished 11th in their time trial. They took on Poland in the repechage, losing out by just one eighth of a second. 

 Kealan Mannix, in the Ireland single, took 11th in his time trial. The Roscarbery rower came up against a very hot opponent in Christopher Bak of the United States, who sprinted brilliantly and was the fastest overall.

Miriam Sheehan had steering difficulties in her race, which cost her vital seconds. 

Both singles go on to a second time trial on Saturday. 


Ireland HPD Holds off on ‘Heavy Judgement’ after Trial

The Ireland high performance programme for the new season began with an open trial in good conditions last weekend. The Ireland high performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni (pictured), was pleased with the turnout. But he made it very clear in an interview with that the work of the cycle to Paris is only beginning.

 “This was the first trial of the year and also the first trial of the new cycle. This cycle (to Paris) is a year shorter. 

 “I’m very happy about (the trial). There was big participation in what was an open trial (and athletes) were happy to come. 

 “It was definitely not (a time) to check performance. The National Championships in August were great (but) very close to September trials – we were not expecting a big or very good performance at the moment. 

 “But the participation was very good and not many clubs were missing at this trial, which was good. 

 “(It was) a starting point, where new athletes are showing something. We didn’t yet have the Olympians, because some of them are in the transition phase. Some of them will come to the October trials and all of them have to attend the November trials. That is the plan at the moment.” 

 He said the absence of the very top level rowers made it hard to definitively judge the standard of those who did compete. 

 “We take into consideration the prognostic (performances) at this trial but we are not making any heavy judgment. In the second trial in October we (will) look into the speed of the boats.” 

 Asked if any boat jumped into contention for the first time, he references the junior women’s pair. “But again it is very hard to compare because the top ones are missing.” 

 Next up for Maurogiovanni is some months at home.

 “I’m having a break. I’m at home in Australia for a period to join the family.”

 He says he is not certain of a return date. “It is very difficult to go in – and get out! The restrictions are very high.”

  The availability of the top rowers is limited right now, and they have other things going on. Sanita Puspure remains in the system.

 “Sanita is part of the programme. She’s in  transition phase, as are all the members of the Olympic team at the moment.”

 Questioned about Daire Lynch’s involvment, he makes a more general point. 

 “Everyone is trying to look after their parallel careers – back at university, for most of them. So now we have to give them a little (time) to organise a new routine (for) them. This is why they don’t have to do the next trial. 

 “They are arranging their own schedules, wherever they are, to look after their other careers.”

 He adds that come November the start of the new cycle will be more established.

Maher and Murphy Shine at Scullers Head of River

Albert Maher of Commercial, rowing in the Masters C class (43 or over), finished 21st overall at the Scullers Head of the River in London. Jamie Copus, a British lightweight, was fastest in 21 minutes 40.17 seconds, while Maher was just over a minute and five seconds slower on the provisional rankings.

 Gerry Murphy of Neptune won the Masters F category (60 or over) in 23 minutes 54.62 seconds.

 Our picture shows some of the Ireland competitors, and includes Emma Feerick, second from left.

Alex Byrne Tops Rankings at Ireland Trial

Alex Byrne topped the rankings on the second day of the Ireland trial over six kilometres at the NRC today. Another under-23 sculler, Andrew Sheehan of Lee, took second to the UCC man in the prognostic sorting. Ronan Brennan of Trinity placed third. 
 New Ross man Ronan Gibbon was the fastest junior man and Holly Davis the quickest junior woman. Claire Feerick and Niall Beggan, from Neptune and Commercial respectively, topped the senior singles rankings. Beggan rows as a lightweight. 

Brennan Does Well in Calm Conditions at Rowing Trial

Excellent conditions and a sizeable entry made for a lively single session of action on the first day of the Ireland trial at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.

 The best prognostic time of the day was recorded by Ronán Brennan of Trinity, rowing as an under-23 sculler, though he rows as a lightweight and weighed in early in the day. Alison Bergin of Fermoy and Holly Davis of Lee Valley (above) did well rowing as an under-23 pair, especially as Davis is just 16.

 Ronan Gibbon of New Ross was the fastest junior single sculler, while Michael Cronin of Cork just pipped Finn O’Reilly of Skibbereen as runners-up to Ronán Brennan in the under-23 single sculls.

 The fastest women’s single sculler was Zoe Hyde of Killorglin, a senior, with Claire Feerick of Neptune not far behind. Grace Healy of Commercial was the fastest at under-23 level, while Lauren McCarthy Steele of Skibbereen took the honours at junior level.

 The competitors return on Sunday, with UCC’s Alex Byrne, who had to miss today’s action due to a social commitment, leading them off.

Rowing Ireland AGM Pushed Back to October

The agm of Rowing Ireland has been postponed until October 31st. The original date was set as September 26th.
The board of Rowing Ireland chose to pospone the meeting so that delegates would have a longer lead in time before they voted on new governance provisions. This would ensure that any changes made would be in line with all the rules. Some clubs have now registered as companies.
The proposed changes are wide-ranging. Among the provisions are: new vice presidents would be nominated by coastal and offshore rowing (above) and by registered athletes; there would be a gender balance quota of 40 per cent on the board; there would be more independent directors; the board would have a specified chair, rather than this role being part of the president’s remit.

Road to Paris Starts Here

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games start in July – just over two years and 10 months from now.

 Irish rowing begins the trialling process for this new cycle on Saturday at the National Rowing Centre (above), with a test of those who wish to stake their claim to join the programme.

 Qualifying six boats for Tokyo was a high water mark for the sport here, but there is need for new blood. Young rowers will need to commit to big challenges and those in charge must harness that talent and effort to best effect.

 A number of key players in recent years have stepped back, at least for a limited term. Philip Doyle is working full-time as a doctor in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry until August 2022. Daire Lynch plans to return to Yale to complete his studies.

 On the women’s side, Sanita Puspure – the reigning world champion in the single – has not retired, but may not be in line for this discipline in Paris. Aifric Keogh is now based in Dublin and studying at Trinity College.

 The two men’s fours (coxed and coxless) which took silver medals at the Under-23 World Championships provide cause for optimism, but not all the personnel are available. Jack Dorney of Shandon is now at Harvard.

 The cancellation of the senior World Championships this year is unfortunate – not least because a good placing would lock in funding for Irish hopefuls.

 The trials this weekend are an early step on the road to Paris.

Learn and Listen Says Irish Coach of Olympic Champions

Tony O’Connor’s coaching story takes some beating. In one bound he went from being a coach to schoolboy crews in New Zealand – albeit a highly lauded one –  to guiding the New Zealand men’s eight to gold in Tokyo 2020.

 O’Connor won gold at the World Championships for Ireland in 2001.

 His long chat with Martin Cross (see the link below) is a bit glitchy early on but is worth persisting with. It is a joy for anybody who is interested in coaching.

He talks about:

 – the need for honesty above all

 – how important it is to listen to your athletes

 – how learning is crucial for a coach

 – the drills he uses – they teach technique and boat feel … and they can be fun

 – his belief that the recovery phase is as important as the drive in a boat

 – what he might do in the future (no set plan …)

Late Late Lines Them Up … And Misses the Target

Two Olympic gold medallists – Ireland’s first in rowing. The first Ireland women’s crew to make the breakthrough to Olympic success. All good talkers, with stories to tell.

The Late Late Show had an open goal … and missed.

 Ryan Tubridy did a cutesy piece with Kellie Harrington in a car (not exactly original – James Corden’s been there, a lot). There wasn’t much time, but the Olympic gold medallist’s warmth and good nature came through.

 Maybe they should have put the next set of guests on a bus and had Ryan run up and down the aisle.

 Instead the Late Late lined them up on stools, demanded quick fire answers to stock questions. And then we’re done. Next please. Enjoy the long journeys home.

 Aidan Walsh, the boxer, told his story well, but come the rowers it was all grindingly familiar.

 If these were tongue-tied teens experiencing their first big day, there might have been some excuse.

 But Ryan Tubridy managed to make Paul O’Donovan seem ordinary. A hit in Rio, another step up in Tokyo, wowed Henley. The bearded warrior is surely well on the way to being honoured as our top sports personality this year.

 All the Late Late got from him was a few sentences and a shrug.

 Come on, RTÉ. Rowing is a serious sport. We’re on the crest of a wave.

 Do the work; mine the gold.