Changes at the top imminent in Rowing Ireland

Positions to be filled include high performance director, president and hon secretary

Morten Espersen: the high performance director led Ireland to its first Olympic medal – at Rio 2016.

The advertisement for a new high performance director for Irish rowing has just gone up and there will be big interest in who the successful man or woman will be. The process should be quite quick; the deadline for applications is St Patrick’s Day and interviews will be held by the end of March.

The changes at Rowing Ireland will not stop there. The president, Con Cronin, has come to the end of his term. And, with the lack of fanfare which is one of his characteristics, Frank Coghlan is stepping down after six years as honorary secretary.

Coghlan has been crucial in the professionalisation of the structures of Irish rowing. The former senior executive in the Musgrave group came into Shandon Rowing Club in the mid-1990s and revived it.

He was elected honorary secretary of the governing body for Ireland in 2011 at a tricky time and stepped in to act as – unpaid – chief executive for a year.


He played a big part in appointing the present full-time chief executive, Hamish Adams, and Morten Espersen, the high performance director who led Ireland to its first Olympic medal, at Rio 2016.

Coghlan’s proudest achievement? “Helping get [Rowing Ireland] governance up to speed.”

High winds

St Michael’s Head of the River, scheduled for Saturday, has had to be postponed because of a forecast of high winds. The organisers are hoping to refix for March 18th, the date of the cancelled Galway Head.

The entry reflected how radically the competitive base of the sport in Ireland has changed, with growing numbers at Masters level and a stunning one at junior 15 level – 32 coxed quadruples (that’s 75 competitors in this section alone). But where are the seniors?

The truth may be that senior rowing may not be a staple of domestic events going forward. To excel as a rower in the years when the body has most potential involves so much expenditure of time and energy that such competitors may be confined almost exclusively in a university setting (often on scholarship to the US) or in the international system.

Espersen, the outgoing HPD, stated bluntly in a recent report that the international calendar is the base for national calendar in all successful rowing countries.

Rowing Ireland has ended the arrangement with the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation (ICRF) which allowed it to affiliate to the governing body. The Rowing Ireland board felt it did not have the reach to require coastal clubs to meet the criteria it sets for 'Olympic-class' clubs. The ICRF is witholding comment. Their board meets in Portlaoise on Saturday.

Rowing Ireland is offering individual coastal rowing clubs which satisfy set criteria a deal which will see them affiliate with no voting rights at a cut rate – this would allow their members to compete at the Fisa Coastal Rowing Championships. If coastal clubs meet all the requirements and pay the full rate (€500), they can affiliate as full members.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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