Rowing: All roads lead to Cork for Ireland trials

O’Donovan brothers set to compete in the Armada Cup in Switzerland

Gary O’Donovan and Paul O’Donovan are set to compete in the Armada Cup in Bern in Switzerland.  Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

Gary O’Donovan and Paul O’Donovan are set to compete in the Armada Cup in Bern in Switzerland. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

The glamorous and the more workmanlike sides of rowing are on show this week.

Experienced internationals and young hopefuls will convene at the Ireland trials at the National Rowing Centre in Cork this Saturday and Sunday, while Castleconnell Head of the River has drawn a big entry.

Much farther afield, Ireland’s three World Championship gold medallists will be receiving some deserved attention.

Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan are set to compete in the Armada Cup in Bern in Switzerland.

The Ireland lightweight double will be in exalted company on the Wohlensee. The Sinkovic brothers from Croatia, Martin and Valent, are friendly rivals to the Skibbereen men for the title of most popular oarsmen in the world.

They like new challenges; they have won world championships in three disciplines. They are the reigning Olympic champions in the (heavyweight) double and this year became world champions in the pair. In 2013 they formed half the men’s quadruple which took world gold.

Sanita Puspure has gone west for her test.

The world champion single sculler heads up a strong women’s field in the Philadelphia Gold Cup at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.

On the men’s side of the event, the Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin (a colleague of the Sinkovic brothers in that 2013 quad) joins newly-crowned world champion Kjetil Borch of Norway. Unusually for a rowing event, there is serious money at stake: the winner will take home $10,000 (€8,780). The Gold Cup was set up to honour Philadelphia great John Kelly.

Training models

The target for the triallists at the NRC is to show themselves in good standing to make the Ireland team for the year ahead.

An early-season test is unlikely to settle any issue, but in the men’s pair the clash of the former lightweights looks interesting: Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan come up against David O’Malley and Shane Mulvaney. The weather may be cold, but the event will go ahead, according to Ireland high performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni.

The Italian is going on the road in the week ahead to meet rowers and mentors around the country. He says this is to talk about the international results, inform clubs about the technical and training models and to listen to feedback.

Maurogiovanni confirmed that he will be backing a proposal to switch the date of the Irish Championships in 2019 so that the regatta does not clash with international fixtures. He said this would be fairer to top rowers who want to compete in their own national championships.

Club rowers have entered in big numbers for the Castleconnell head, with crews from Enniskillen to Kenmare taking the chance to compete in an event which year after year has managed to beat the weather.

Indoor rowers have no concerns on this front. The rowing blitz run by Get Going Get Rowing drew 650 young competitors to Trinity College yesterday (Thursday).

“All the races are full – we’re actually ahead of schedule,” said Lisa Hayes, the new business operations officer of Rowing Ireland. Best of all, she opined, was that the participants, whether on-the-water rowers or not, had fun.

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