Autumn to herald a revamp of Irish rowing structures

Younger rowers set to compete in new event alongside Irish Open

Hamish Adams: Rowing Ireland’s outgoing chief executive said one of the biggest challenges is to bring in and retain volunteers. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

A revamp of Irish rowing structures could begin as early as this September.

At a special presentation before the Rowing Ireland agm in Dublin, delegates were told that younger rowers are set to compete at a new event alongside the Irish Open in the autumn.

This would be the first step in a year’s-long programme which would first involve junior 14 to junior 16 athletes but by 2022 would lead to competition in under-20 and under-22 events.

The proposals were produced by a work group and presented to the fixtures meeting by Pat McInerney.


Responding to questions from the floor he admitted that it might be seen as “the thin end of the wedge” which would result in the Irish Championships moving to September. The decision on that would have to be made in the future.

McInerney said that the switch could lead to other events in the build-up to the new event, which will be run initially alongside the Irish Open.

Evan Molloy of Coláiste Iognáid said the new regatta and new structure would cause problems for schools. Young rowers at present treat the championships in July as the focus of their year and it would also be hard to find coaches through the weeks after the championships. Other delegates also spoke of “coach burnout” and the need for rest time.

Ireland high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni said it would give young people more opportunity to race. “I’m in favour. I think it is a great idea,” he said.

Maurogiovanni, who flew in from the Ireland training camp in Italy especially for the meeting, spoke after the agm.

“It is very weird that the National Championships [in mid July] are on the same weekend as the [Lucerne] World Cup,” he said.

He said lightweight rowing at the Olympic Games was under threat and he was absolutely committed to fighting to retain it. He pleaded for the top rowers to be given the chance to compete at home for their clubs and to teach new rowers.

Positive models

“The role of the High Performance Programme is to create positive models for young kids,” he added.

Maurogiovanni said that four men had joined the Ireland training camp in Varese – Patrick Boomer, Ronan Byrne, Andy Harrington and Conor Egan.

The fixtures meeting saw Skibbereen Regatta and Lough Rynn switch positions in the proposed calendar for 2019.

Lough Rynn is now set for Sunday, April 14th, a day after a combined University and Schools Championships, while Skibbereen would run on May 4th and 5th.

Portadown would also be on this weekend, with Trinity switching dates with them and being held on May 11th.

Outgoing chief executive, Hamish Adams, said that he had given much to the sport and it had given him much in return. The finances of Rowing Ireland had doubled in his five years and the number of carded athletes grown from one to 13. He said one of the biggest challenges ahead is to bring in and retain volunteers. The aim should be to “find more people and ask less of them”.

Presidents: Gerry Cantan. Leinster: Kathryn Wall. Munster: Teresita O’Callaghan. Connacht: Micheál Ó Marcacháin. Ulster: Ronald Walker (2018). Shane Kernan (2017).

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in rowing