DOMINIC Casey is unrelenting in his work to make Gary and Paul O’Donovan row faster.
But it’s not just with Gary and Paul, it’s with every rower he coaches and guides at national level with Ireland and club level at home with Skibbereen Rowing Club.
His body of work is impressive at both levels, and there was widespread head nodding when Casey was named the 2018 World Rowing Coach of the Year at the World Rowing Awards in Berlin on Friday.
On Saturday night week at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, Gary and Paul picked up their West Cork Sports Star Monthly Award for September in recognition of their terrific gold at the World Rowing Championships. Pulling their best-ever strokes, they won the men’s lightweight double sculls final to take the mantle as the best in the world. Casey, again, oversaw this success.
Gary and Paul had been nominated for the best men’s crew at the World Rowing Awards but that honour went to the Australian four. Instead, they made their way back to West Cork to accept their latest West Cork Sports Star awards – and they’re building quite a collection.
To show how much being honoured at home means to them, Paul noted that this is the only award that they have accepted since they became world champions in September.
They also took the chance to laud Coach Casey after his own award.
‘His goal was never to set out to become world coach of the year. His goal is to help athletes get faster,’ Gary says.
‘Every year he wants us to go faster. As fast as we are, winning Olympic silver and world championship gold, he’s still trying to make us go faster. He’s still trying to get Diarmuid (O’Driscoll) go faster out in Sydney, he’s still trying to get Rich (Coakley) back in a boat out in Sydney. There are 14 year olds in the club that he’s trying to make go faster.’
Gary noted too that Paul and himself have been very fortunate that they have worked with the best coaches. First there was their father Teddy who drilled them well and laid all the ground work for their later achievements, and then Dominic came on board later in their development.
What Casey’s World Rowing Award also shows, says Paul, is that Irish coaches are amongst the best in the world.
‘A lot of the time, people will say you need to bring in someone foreign with their knowledge to show us how it’s done. That happens in a lot of sports, that they think the grass is greener on the other side, that they have secrets that we could never figure out by ourselves, but the Irish are as capable as any other nation across all sports,’ Paul says.
‘There is no reason that we shouldn’t develop Irish coaches, they know our culture and the athletes better, how to work with them. Coaches of all sports across the country can take confidence from this.’
Two men who deserve credit in Casey’s rise are renowned coaches Thor Nilsen and Morten Espersen.
‘It’s worth giving Morten credit,’ Gary says.
‘He gave Dominic the confidence, he believed that Dominic was good enough, he told him to go work with Gary and Paul. He mentored Dominic. He gave him that chance. We always believed in Dominic. Morten believed in us and in Dominic.’