Having completed four years in office, Con Cronin has stood down as President of Rowing Ireland at the recent AGM. Con has major rowing pedigree as an oarsman, coach and club man. His rowing career, it is said, started with Muckross Rowing Club in Killarney where his father had previously rowed. On arrival in Neptune in the early ‘70s, his career blossomed with a number of wins at senior 4+ level including the Blue Riband which was, at that time, the unofficial 4+ championship rowed in Blessington. In his last rowing year in 1978, he was a member of a strong Neptune eight that made it to the semi-finals of the Thames Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
His successful coaching career started in 1977 with Championship wins at ‘Junior’ (nowadays Intermediate) eight and four. He, along with fellow coaches Joe Moroney and Liam Perdisatt, coached Neptune’s break-through senior eight’s Championship in 1980. This trio of coaches went on to win several more senior championship events throughout the ‘80s. He was part of Neptune’s success in Henley, coaching the Britannia Cup winning crew in 1982 and the Ladies Plate winning crew in 1986.
Con’s coaching career moved onto the world stage in 1987 as he coached a four that competed at the World Championships. The following year, he coached a coxed pair of Frank Moore, Pat McDonagh and cox Liamo Williams at the Seoul Olympics. Con continued to coach up to the early 90s.
Con has played a huge part in the development of Neptune Rowing Club having been club President in 1992 and 1993 and Vice President for many years. He has been a key fund-raiser for the club and was at the centre of the major building project in which the clubhouse and boathouse were replaced. Since its inception in 1983, Con was for many years chairman of Neptune Regatta. Hard to believe but this was meant to be a one-off regatta to celebrate Neptune’s 75th anniversary but it is still going strong 34 years later.
Con was elected to the Rowing Ireland board in 2009 and his regatta organisation experience was not wasted when he took over as chair of the Championships Regatta. In 2013 he was elected un-opposed as President of Rowing Ireland. He was the third Neptune President following in the footsteps of M.V. Rowan and Wally Stevens. His four year term has seen many changes and advances as Rowing Ireland has developed strategically and structurally. He has made a huge commitment to this onerous job with the highlight, of course, being the silver medal win by the O’Donovan brothers at the 2016 Olympics. It hardly need be said that the second highlight was presenting medals to Neptune’s Novice Men and Women having won their respective championship 4X+ events in 2016. These were the first Neptune championship wins while Con was President.
No words about Con would be complete without making mention of his wife, Colette, and family. Colette has travelled far and wide with him on his rowing travels over the years and has been an immense support.
Rowing Ireland are immensely appreciative of Con’s contribution to rowing at club, national and international levels and wish him well in his future involvement in the sport, in any capacity, for many years to come.
Thanks to Brendan O’ Dea (Neptune RC) for the above tribute to Con.