Rowing: Dominic Casey in line for World Coach of the Year award

Honour would be a fitting reward for the Skibbereen man’s remarkable record

Dominic Casey looks set to become the World Coach of the Year. There is an Ireland trial this weekend, but the Skibbereen man, who avoids awards ceremonies, has travelled to Berlin, where the World Rowing Awards will be presented in a gala on Friday.

Casey has been nominated for three successive years. He coached the lightweight double of Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan to a silver medal at the Olympic Games in 2016, and Paul went on to win gold as a lightweight single sculler at that year’s World Championships.

In 2017, the lightweight pair of Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll won gold, Paul O'Donovan successfully defended his world title and Denise Walsh took silver at the European Championships and at the Belgrade World Cup. This year Gary and Paul won gold at the World Championships.

Gary O’Donovan paid tribute to his long-time coach.

“His consistency has been brilliant at international level,” he said, citing Paul O’Donovan’s bronze at the World Under-23 Championships in 2013 and Casey’s achievements with junior rowers which stretch back to the 1990s.

The O’Donovan brothers are also finalists at the awards, as is single sculler Sanita Puspure, who won World Championship gold in the women’s single sculls.

The have been nominated for, respectively, male and female crews of the year. Rowing Ireland chief executive, Michelle Carpenter, is in Berlin where she will address the World Coaches Conference and attend the gala.

The O'Donovan brothers and Puspure plan to be on the water for Ireland trials this Saturday and Sunday at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.

Susan Dunlea, the regatta secretary, said the bad weather could become a factor. "It all systems go at the moment," she said. "If it changes, we will announce it as soon as possible."

Gary O'Donovan will be out to make his mark as a single sculler. Paul O'Donovan's medical studies at UCC will see him miss out on the European Championships in Lucerne in June, and Gary has targeted the lightweight single – at the site where Sam Lynch won gold at the World Championships in 2001.

Jake and Fintan McCarthy will hope to impress in the lightweight double, with a chance of being the senior Ireland representatives come Lucerne.

Cost considerations

The draw for the trials opens up the possibility of an Ireland women's four joining the women's pair going forward. Ireland high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni says that at the moment they are exploring the possible options: it could be pair and double or pair and four.

Maurogiovanni says that while he thinks “it is not fair” that the siting of the Irish Championships in July prevent senior internationals competing, it is not his job to relocate them. The domestic calendar is unlikely to change in 2019.

The World Under-23 Championships are in Sarasota in Florida in July and the World Junior Championships are in Tokyo in early August. Because of cost considerations, both teams are likely to be small. Those competing are set to miss the Irish Championships.

The Ireland team for the Coupe de la Jeunesse junior tournament will compete Italy in early August but can enter the Irish Championships.

The ongoing growth rowing in Ireland is notable. The Provinces Indoor Rowing Championships at University of Limerick on Saturday goes head-to-head with the Ireland trial – and will be a huge event.

"We are 30 per cent up in terms of numbers," said Joe Cantillon, who organsises the event. Coastal rowers and those competing in shorter races than the standard 2,000 metres, are well represented.

The Get Going, Get Rowing programme, which draws young people to rowing, is also driving forward. Belfast has also come on board.

Michelle Carpenter’s talk at the World Coaches Conference will be on “indoor rowing and membership options”.

Next week Rowing Ireland will run a roadshow on the proposed strategic plan for the sport. Carpenter said the roadshow will also cover the question of whether clubs should embrace indoor rowing and recreational rowing.