"It's an all-year round thing now," says Ireland high performance director Morten Espersen of top-class rowing. The World Championships are nine months away, but Espersen and lead coach Don McLachlan have organised two camps for Ireland hopefuls for December and one for early January, while aspiring Ireland rowers are expected to perform at the Irish Indoor Championships in Limerick tomorrow. There will also be a special ergometer test in Belfast next weekend.
The entry for tomorrow's Championships in the University of Limerick runs to over 800 competitors, with great depth in the junior grades and a remarkable 35 set to sit down and compete in the men's open grade. The lightweight categories look particularly competitive: recent Ireland internationals Niall Kenny, Mark O'Donovan, Anthony English and Justin Ryan shoot it out with specialist indoor rower Jonathan Doyle, whose focus is on winning the over-40 grade in the British Championships next month.
Siobhán McCrohan is an interesting entry in the lightweight women's category, where Sinéad and Catríona Jennings, Orla Hayes and Sarah Dolan will be in the mix.
The aim for Ireland hopefuls is to be invited to the camps at the National Rowing Centre in Cork over the next seven weeks. Espersen says Ireland athletes based in the United States will also attend, perhaps in early January. He says there has been strong interest from foreign-based rowers who have Ireland qualifications to join the system.
Pat McInerney, who has been confirmed as the Ireland lead junior coach, will take charge of the progression of these athletes after the tests. The new Ireland Para Rowing Coach is Peter Heaney.
The story of Ireland's ocean rowers will have a new chapter next year. Dubliner Philip Cavanagh will head up the Battleborn team in the Great Pacific race from Monterey in California to Honolulu in Hawaii next summer. The 27-year-old from Palmerstown, who has learned to row in order to take on this challenge, expects to be the only Irishman in the inaugural running of the event.