Rowing Ireland criticised for dismissing Seán Casey

Sanita Puspure says she has been ‘let down’ after losing her second coach in two years

The decision by Rowing Ireland to dispense with heavyweight coach Seán Casey has drawn an angry reaction.

Sanita Puspure, who finished fourth at the World Championships under Casey's guidance, tweeted in response to The Irish Times piece on the development: "Second year in a row my coach is let go. To say I'm not impressed with Rowing Ireland is understatement. I'm let down by my own." Puspure's coach at the 2016 Olympics, Don McLachlan, was cut loose after the Games.

While Puspure is directly affected, as she is a heavyweight, the top performers have been united in being critical of the current structures.

No stability and consistency in @RowingIreland #dissapointed #consistencyiskey

— SanitaPuspure(@SanitaPuspure) December 21, 2017

In a letter to the Board of Rowing Ireland last month, a group of athletes, including Paul and Gary O’Donovan, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, and Denise Walsh and Puspure – all of them World Championship finalists – expressed dissatisfaction about the methods of Antonio Maurogiovanni, the Ireland high performance director.


Maurogiovanni was on a flight to Australia on Thursday, but on Wednesday he dealt with criticism this week from his predecessor, Morten Espersen, that Rowing Ireland had not defended the lightweight pair in a meeting at the European Rowing extraordinary assembly in London.


The Italian said he might have missed this meeting because of his attendance at the World Coaches Conference. His understanding was that a decision had not been made on the lightweight pair.

Maurogiovanni said he was fully behind the retention of lightweight rowing at the Olympic Games. “Absolutely. Absolutely,” he said.

He said Ireland needs to “push hard” to fend off efforts by the International Olympic Committee to remove lightweights from the Games. “We need to put together a panel to show strong reasons from an Ireland point of view that you need to keep lightweight rowing.

“We need to be proactive. I’ve said it to [Ireland lightweight coach] Dominic [Casey]. We can’t stand back and wait for someone else. It won’t happen.”

Rowing Ireland has, meanwhile, set up a group to assess facilities on the island of Ireland in a strategic way.

Three crews from the island are competing in the Atlantic Challenge rowing race with some success. After a week at sea, Relentless was in sixth and Home to Portrush lies eighth. Gulliver’s Travels, crewed by solo oarsman Damian Browne lies 19th of the 23 boats competing; three have dropped out.

Dutch team Row4Cancer, crewed by solo oarsman Mark Slats, has been the big surprise: he lies third.