McInerney pushes club sustaining strategy


ROWING:IF YOU want something done ask a busy man. Pat McInerney, the very active coach education officer of Rowing Ireland, is planning next weekend’s development camp for international juniors right now – and leading a push for a major revamp of the way Irish club rowers compete.

The first-round interviews for a new high performance director for international rowing take place today in Dublin, but McInerney is driving radical proposals which are primarily for rowers at the next level down.

“This is not a high-performance strategy,” he says. “It is a club-sustaining strategy.”

Rowing in Ireland has hit a new high in terms of registered competitors – reaching to beyond 3,000 – but the growth is virtually all at under-18 level and the lack of senior rowers in clubs has become alarming.

The new plan has three main prongs: a grading system based on handicaps which will allow downward movement; the facilitation of “averaging” in crews which would give clubs with a small diverse range of competitors a chance to have them all row in a single boat in which the grade would be determined by weighting given to each rower; the possibility of former internationals or top seniors returning to row at a grade which takes account of their lay-off and present ability. Among the down sides of adopting these proposals would be a costly redesign of the tracking system.

McInerney says meetings in recent months in all four provinces have yielded very positive feedback. But he wants people with objections to voice them at a meeting next month in Dublin which he hopes will be a “dry-run” for the big one: the extraordinary general meeting in January where the plan will need a two-thirds majority to be adopted.

One man who is generally in favour of the proposals but with important caveats is Frank Durkin of Offaly Rowing Club, who hold the Tullamore Time Trials tomorrow. Durkin would simplify in two areas: there would be just three grades (novice, club and elite), and returning rowers could start anew once they were away from the sport for three years.

Tomorrow’s test on the canal in Tullamore, which is for single sculls, has attracted a record entry of 116 from an array of 12 clubs from Northern Ireland to Galway to Dublin. Rory O’Connor of Queen’s University and Dave Neale of UCD (both former Offaly RC men) should be among the fastest on the day.

The time-trial winners in the Cork Sculling Ladder last weekend were Andy Harrington of Shandon Boat Club and Marie O’Neill of Cork Boat Club.

Iztok Cop, the great Slovenian oarsman, has just retired. In a 21-year senior career Cop (pronounced chop) became a sporting icon in his young and relatively small country and competed in six Olympic Games, where he took gold, silver and bronze (twice) and also finished fourth and sixth.

Asked by worldrowing.comwhat his advice would be for a young person considering rowing he said: “I’d strongly suggest it. But I’d point out that hard work, discipline and determination is needed for success. On the other hand healthy relations between rivals, injury and an almost drug-free sport are advantages compared to many other, more popular and profitable sports.”

The new man who will take over the Ireland HPD job might pin that up on a wall!

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