'It was get the boat de-rigged as quick as possible before ye go anywhere else!'

August 8th, 2021 4:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy celebrate winning Olympic gold in Beijing in 2021.

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SO, what does the coach of a crew that has just won Ireland’s first-ever Olympic rowing gold medals say to his charges when they come in off the water after powering into the history books?

Well, according to gold medal-winning heroes Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan, their coach Dominic Casey (pictured) kept their feet on the ground and told them to de-rig their boat!

Coach Casey, always a calming influence, didn’t stray from his usual pre-race and post-race demeanour for last Thursday’s Olympic final of the lightweight men’s double in Tokyo. Instead, it was business as usual as the Skibb contingent treated the A final, the biggest race of their lives, as just another race.

‘Before the race it was just the usual, Dominic doesn’t like to give a big pep talk, just a few works like “keep it clean”, stuff like that. There’s not a big drama before the race, it’s just another race really,’ Fintan says.

‘I didn’t see him for a while after because I was called in for anti-doping but I assume it was along the lines of “get the boat de-rigged”.’

Paul jumps in here to confirm Fintan’s hunch.

‘Ya, it was get the boat de-rigged as quick as possible before ye go anywhere else,’ Paul smiles.

No surprise there for anyone who knows Dominic Casey, the man who has masterminded the rise of both Skibbereen Rowing Club as a force and now the ongoing success of Irish lightweight rowing. Speaking to The Southern Star in May after winning her first senior international medal at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Skibb rower Lydia Heaphy revealed what coach Casey said to her after the race: ‘Go and de-rig your boat’. Very similar to Tokyo, it appears.

Therein lies one of the secrets to Skibb rowing’s success: the ability to stay calm even when a whirlwind rages around you. The expectation and pressure on Paul and Fintan was huge before the Games, seeing as they were huge favourites, and that ratcheted up as the Olympics progressed, but they all kept it simple, trusted the process and they have their reward.

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