On the 16th of October at Skibbereen RC, the 17th of October at St. Michael’s RC in Limerick and the 12th of November at Presentation College BC in Cork, coaching meetings were conducted with great interest. I mentioned that a Provincial and Regional approach would be introduced to develop stronger HP athletes from our clubs for International Rowing in the period before they are carded and members of the senior high performance team at the NRC.
Rowing Ireland is in the early stages of this by establishing squad member training groups in Women’s Open & Lightweight and Men’s Open & Lightweight categories. In Skibbereen, Limerick and Cork this contains at the moment athletes from a number of clubs:
Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians BC)
Leonora Kennedy (Portora BC)
Monika Dukarska (Killorglin RC)
Denise Walsh (Skibbereen RC)
Sinead Jennings (St. Michael’s RC)
Orla Hayes (Skibbereen RC)
Gary O’Donovan (Skibbereen RC/ CIT RC)
Justin Ryan (UCC RC)
Aidan McEvoy (St. Michael’s RC)
Finbar Manning (St. Michael’s RC)
John Keohane (Lee Valley RC).
They use their own boats or club boats at the moment. The group can be changed, reduced or expanded.
To organize this system is a major task. Therefore I have selected the following coaches and support staff to suppport RI Lead Coach Don McLachlan: Dominic Casey (Skibbereen RC), Mary McLachlan (NRC) and Sam Lynch (St. Michael’s RC) to be part of building the Provincial and Regional approach.
Sam Lynch is a well-known former Olympian and World Champion, with experience of the training required to compete at international level, Dominic Casey has over a long period produced athletes for the Irish Olympic and International Teams and is a successful Head Coach in Skibbereen RC. Mary McLachlan has years of experience as a coach in Great Britain with the Olympic Talent ID World Class Start Program and has coached para rowing crews to gold medals at the World Championships.
Sam, Dominic and Mary will be enrolled in supporting the organisation and the coaching of the athletes daily in their clubs at River Ilen at Skibbereen and River Shannon at O’Brien’s Bridge, and monthly training at the NRC.
They will play an important role with the athletes, who are part of the initial HP selection squad. It is my hope that contacts will be received with enthusiasm and support. So far many coaches have shown interest in the new set up: at the coaching meetings and via email. But we are still a long way from reaching the highest goals and a long and challenging pathway has to be followed before success is achieved.
The purpose is to enhance the athletes’ training, be better prepared for the season and create stronger athletes before crew formation and selection of crews. The athletes train 8 – 14 times weekly at the moment.
It is my hope that clubs will understand this change of approach to athlete training and are ready to support the Provincial and Regional pathway. The roles are to support the athletes with encouragement, coaching and to organize training venues and all practical matters concerning the group. The athlete’s attachment to their clubs will be embedded, and I will liaise with the club coaches initially for the development as the season progress.
And I hope there is room for patience and beginner errors too, with acceptance in your club and by coaches. Unfortunately, after the Irish Sports Council cuts and downgrading of rowing financially, I have to stress that this system is based on volunteer engagement. When results improve internationally, hopefully this will change in the next Olympiad.
The key at this stage is to work smarter and harder, get achievements and build relationships with honesty, transparency and fairness.
Hopefully after Christmas similar training groups will emerge in Belfast and Galway.
High Performance Director