High-performance programme keeping an eye on Lynch and Quinlan in US

This is the year when Olympic qualification for boats can be nailed down by good performances at World Championships in Linz

Ireland’s Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan: they finished 16th in the pair (fourth in the C Final) at last year’s World Championships. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

Ireland’s Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan: they finished 16th in the pair (fourth in the C Final) at last year’s World Championships. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

Every year a stream of young Irish people are offered places at the world’s top universities – because they row well. Coaches from Princeton and Brown University have been in the country recently running the rule over the latest batch of talented juniors.

Leading rowing countries have come to expect that some of their best performers will be based in the US. They try hard to devise means of drawing on this talent at under-23 and senior level.

Daire Lynch (20) from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, who has broken six minutes for 2,000m on the ergometer, and James Quinlan (19) from Castleconnell, Co Limerick, are now based in Yale and Princeton respectively. They are being monitored by the high-performance programme, and if all goes to plan they may come into the reckoning for Ireland teams come the summer.

In the run-up to next weekend’s Ireland trial, Antonio Maurogiovanni, the Ireland high performance director, has laid down a strict new regime for those senior men who wish to be invited to the all-important June trial. To guarantee inclusion candidates must break six minutes for the 2,000m ergometer test; win the trial in March in small boats; or qualify due to special circumstances set by Maurogiovanni.

Maurogiovanni says the aim is to clarify the situation for those who are unsure whether they are in the frame. “They will see ‘I can do that’ or ‘I can’t do that’.”

Inside track

This is the year when Olympic qualification for boats can be nailed down by good performances at the World Championships in Linz, Austria, in August/September.

In the double sculls Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne moved on to an inside track when they finished 9th at last year’s World Championships. If this placing was reproduced in Linz it would qualify this boat for Tokyo 2020. Doyle and Byrne must be tested in trials, although injury and his work as a doctor has limited Doyle’s time on the water.

The sweep side may see the emergence of a pair or a four. Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll finished 16th in the pair (fourth in the C Final) at last year’s World Championships. If reproduced in Linz this would not qualify the boat for the Olympics.

Maurogiovanni says this leaves three possibilities if Ireland are to qualify a men’s heavyweight sweep boat: a better pair emerges; the same pair does better; a four is formed.

The world champions in the lightweight double, Paul and Gary O’Donovan, have started the competitive season on different continents. While Paul pursues his medical studies at UCC, Gary is rowing in New Zealand. He finished fourth in the premier single sculls at the North Island Club Championships. Robbie Manson and Mahe Drysdale took first and second.

The New Zealand Rowing Championships starts on Tuesday and runs to Saturday. The elder O’Donovan plans to finish up by competing in the Sydney International, which is directly opposite the March trial in Ireland. Maurogiovanni says he will run an extra lightweight trial once O’Donovan is back in the country.

Domestic season

In five months’ time the domestic season will come to a close. The cancellations of both Skibbereen head (the club has lost this refixture, the original head and the 2018 regatta) and Lagan have led some to suggest that organising committees be allowed to hold off on cancelling and decide whether to hold the event on the day, with non-travellers refunded their entry fees. This might not go down well with clubs which travel long distances to compete in heads of the river.

The Sligo Head on Saturday has an entry made up for the most part of juniors and masters rowers.

Irish umpire Ronald Walker has been named on the jury for the World Championships, while Lisa O’Callaghan, Kieran Kerr and Séamus Scully have also been nominated for posts during the season.

The annual general meeting of Rowing Ireland has been set for March 31st. There will be an election for treasurer. It is understood that Dan Buckley is stepping down. --

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