‘Identification’ trial at National Rowing Centre seen as a success

Former world champion Niall O’Toole may play a part in overseeing the Dublin group

The early Ireland trial at the National Rowing Centre last weekend worked so well you wondered why it hadn’t been done before. One of the big benefits is that aspiring athletes now have a feel for the amount of work to be done during the winter if they are to be ready to represent Ireland next year.

It was dubbed an 'identification' trial, and Ireland coach Don McLachlan has been drawing up a list of names of those who will be formed into training groups in locations around the country, from Skibbereen to Northern Ireland, with Galway, Limerick and Dublin also involved. McLachlan was on the road yestereday meeting coaches, and he confirmed that former world champion Niall O'Toole may play a part in overseeing the Dublin group.

Good conditions
In sometimes testing, but generally good conditions for the time of year, some athletes showed in Cork that they are already in good shape.

Denise Walsh, who is just 20, was the fastest lightweight woman on both days, while Paul O'Donovan – who is just 19 – was the fastest man. O'Donovan, who won a medal at the World Under-23 Championships this year, is such a talent that Ireland performance director Morten Espersen agrees that it is not an easy decision whether to target him for Rio in a lightweight double or four or give him the chance to "turn the medal into silver or gold" at the World Under-23 Championships in 2014.

The most impressive single thing about the trial was the number of women pushing to get into the international system: on the Sunday (when juniors and seniors fought it out together) 70 competed in finals in single sculls, pairs or fours.


“It’s encouraging that we’ve got quite a strong group of women,” McLachlan said yesterday. “And we’ve got a group of four or five girls in America [in US universities] as well.”

Sanita Puspure, who has recovered well from her tonsillectomy, looked fit and well last weekend.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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