Have you had any training camps or other big events to prepare for racing at Coupe this summer?
The most important part of the mid-year preparation for Coupe was the invite only trials that took place about once every month or so at the National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra. A lot of the time we’d be rowing quite early in the morning when the lake would still be flat calm, so there was a lot of fast competitive racing in the pairs and fours.
What have been the big races in the leadup to Coupe?
A big one was Cork Regatta, it had a big part to play in the final selection process. Mixing the junior pairs in with the seniors meant that it was much more competitive, so there were some really big performances seen over the whole weekend.
How have you found it moving from the smaller boat classes and rowing with your school/ club mates to working together as part of the national squad?
When we first got into the squad boats for the Coupe the difference in rowing styles was immediately extremely evident, and a big part of these final few sessions will be about really blending the different styles together in a slick and comfortable way.
Are you excited to race on home turf in Cork this year?
Absolutely. As I said, all the trials for the squad took place in Cork, as well as a lot of the major regattas in the year. It’s a course we’re well used to, and it’ll be nice to be attaching to a familiar stake boat next weekend.
What is the lake/ river like where you train?
The men’s sweep squad is currently training out of St Joseph’s RC on the River Corrib. We always get out nice and early so there’s not much wind, and we’ve seen some really nice conditions so far. Later in the day the wind picks up a bit, and we get the opportunity to prepare for the different conditions we might face in Inniscarra.
Have you had any big challenges to face in your rowing season this year/ in your preparation for Coupe?
A big problem in Ireland this year was the rough weather we had in Spring, meaning a lot of regattas were cancelled or rescheduled. For a lot of us, National Schools Regatta in May would’ve been our first regatta of the year for our clubs. However, we still thankfully got some brilliant racing in at Cork Reggata and the Championships.
Have any of you raced at the Coupe de la Jeunesse or Home Countries before, or is this your first time? If so, what was your experience like?
Our cox and the boys in the pair were at Homes and Coupe in bigger boats last year, but for the 4- it’s our first time racing internationally at the Coupe. The more experienced lads are really leading from a knowledgeable position, which is helping a lot in squad development.
What does it mean to you to be competing at an event like Coupe? What are you most excited about?
No matter what sport you play or country you’re from, it’s always an honour to wear a national jersey. It’s really special to be a part of a squad hosting an event as big as this, and you can see the excitement shared by everyone involved.
It must be very exciting to see the Irish senior team having so much success recently at World Cup III. Who inspires you in rowing?
It’s always great to see people like Paul, Gary and Sanita having such great success and making a name for Ireland as a country to watch for the future. Even since the Lightweight Men’s Double won Silver in Rio, interest in the sport in Ireland has increased exponentially, and rowers like the O’Donovans are becoming household names. Internationally, there’s some really great talent out there. The St. Paul’s eight that did the Triple this year was something special.
What's your favourite thing about rowing?
A great thing about rowing is the camaraderie and trust that develops in a crew as time goes by. It’s a really good thing, but it’s also really important. If there’s no trust there, or a desire to succeed as a crew, progression becomes a lot more difficult. It also makes the feeling of winning that little bit sweeter.
What are your goals for the future?
I suppose we’re all just trying to take it one step at a time at the moment, and making the Coupe squad is a great base for greater achievement in coming years. I think every athlete at this level dreams of rowing at Henley or the World Championships, and if we keep our feet on the ground that should come with a bit of hard work and belief in our ability.