The new Ireland high-performance director is unlike his predecessors. The striking difference is his attitude to coach and athlete education; Antonio Maurogiovanni is almost missionary in his zeal.
He has been travelling around the country giving long talks on technique. And these forums have drawn big numbers, with the Italian open to questioning and suggestions.
“I want to have everyone on more or less the same page,” he said. There are good people in Ireland with unbelievable dedication to rowing, but the structures leave a “big opportunity” for improvement.
Last weekend's Ireland trial at the National Rowing Centre confirmed that lightweight oarsmen Paul and Gary O'Donovan are in good form and will travel with the high-performance director's blessing to New Zealand and Australia in the New Year for an extended stay. They will be accompanied Shane O'Driscoll and Mark O'Donovan, who did not trial.
The other trial results suggested that there is work to be be done, though Maurogiovanni is keeping his powder dry. “This was the very very first assessment for me. It is very hard for me to make an objective assessment. I think the next one will be the one [at which] I can see the competition on the water.”
That trial has been reset for December 23rd. The week before there will be on-land ergometer tests, then a one-day trial. “Then it will be happy Christmas!” says Maurogiovanni.
One of the big challenges for Irish rowing is that the lightweight class is down to just one men’s and one women’s boat for Tokyo 2020. It looks quite possible that it may be removed from the programme thereafter.
The Provinces Indoor Rowing Championships at the University of Limerick on Saturday is a big event, though top-ranked senior rowers have generally given it a miss. Damian Browne, who next month will set off from the Canaries to row across the Atlantic, has a chance of being the best in the Open category.
The weekend of indoor rowing starts on Friday with the inaugural Cork Blitzit at the Neptune Stadium. It will be run under the auspices of Get Going Get Rowing – which endeavours to attract young people to the sport – and the Cork Sports Partnership.
Rowing Ireland will oversee a new Irish Championships in 2018. The new Coastal Rowing division meets in Portlaoise on Sunday and the clubs involved, which number over 30, will vote on a proposal that championships will be held at the National Rowing Centre, hosted by the Rushbrooke club from Cobh.
NUIG Boat Club captain Georgina Deane has been chosen as the first recipient of the Paul Giblin Award. Deane will receive a bursary of €2,000 and support similar to a scholarship student. She took up rowing in 2016 and this year won a set of Irish titles. Giblin, one of the greats of NUIG rowing, was just 34 when he died earlier this year. The award will be given each year to a promising rower.