A good representation by College, promising novice oarsmen coming through, and that elusive Championship win to top it off proved a successful Championship weekend for UCD. But was it a successful year for College also?
In comparison to the 2001/2002 season, the results of the two years could not have been more different. The previous year, the club came out of the Head season with two pennants in Inter Eights and a 25th placing at London Head.
The regatta season up to Metro produced an incredible 12 wins in Senior Inter and Novice Eights and Fours including the Gannon Cup. However, from Cork Regatta through to Athlone, Galway, Henley and the Championships the club failed to carry on the success.
Amazingly, this season has been in stark contrast. Two pennants were won during the Head season however they were the single entry fours at Lagan and the Novice Sculls at Limerick. The Senior 8 finished 69th at London Head.
The Gannon was lost but the Novices did win. From Neptune and Commercial, to the University Championships, Queens and Metro the club recorded zero wins. Then with a win in Cork and two wins in Athlone in quick succession, the club’s fortunes were turned around. A Semi-final run at Henley Royal Regatta and a Championship victory were testimony to that.
What does it all mean? It is obvious that the club has rarely been more stable. Despite the loss of the squad’s top quality oarsmen at the beginning of the year, a strong coaching and organisational structure allowed the club to recover and develop the squad. Without such a set-up and the hard work of those involved, it would have been easy to predict an exodus or a season of non-activity at UCD.
The low points of the season are obvious with the loss of the Gannon Cup and early season form of the squad. However, there is far more positives to be gained. With the hosting of the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships, the club made a valuable and hopefully continuing contribution to the rowing calendar.
The week long training camp at Hazewinkel, Belgium was, to all concerned, a tremendous success, and the development of the Novice group was perhaps one of the highlights of the season on a par with the Henley and Championship performance. The camaraderie, cohesion and quality quickly attained by a group of newcomers was remarkable and due in no small part to the actions of their dutiful coaches.