NUIG crews making waves thanks to head coach Mannion’s guidance

Dave Mannion, Head Coach of NUI Galway Boat Club, and 2017 Galway Sports Star award recipient.
Dave Mannion, Head Coach of NUI Galway Boat Club, and 2017 Galway Sports Star award recipient.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

IF the word ‘ambition’ ever requires an ambassador, then NUI Galway Boat Club Head Coach Dave Mannion may just fit the bill. Having led NUIG to no less than 36 Irish championships since taking the helm in 2011, he is now aiming to elevate the college to the top university rowing club in Ireland.

As it stands, Skibbereen (170), Neptune (152) and Commercial (145) lead the overall roll of honour with UCD the best of the universities boasting of 107 Irish championships. However, NUI Galway have been quickly closing in on that in recent years by taking their tally to 95.

“In terms of how we have accelerated to that total over the last number of years, we have done quite well,” remarks Mannion. “I mean, NUIG, or UCG at the time, won their first championship in 1949 – a maiden four, I think – and from 1949 until 2000, UCG/NUIG won 22 championships. From 2000 to 2017, though, we have won a further 73 championships.

“So, while we were slow to get going, the university has really accelerated. My own personal target would be to try to get NUIG to become the most successful university in the country, hopefully next year and if not next year within the next two years. If we are continuing along the same pattern as we have been in the past five or six years, we should be on target for reaching that.”

A driving force behind the club, the 35-year-old coach outlines that the aims of NUI Galway Boat Club are three-fold in terms of winning university titles, competing for Irish championships and putting green jerseys on their rowers’ backs.

To this end, Mannion, who has been chosen to head up Rowing Ireland’s entire U-23 programme, has had 18 of his charges compete in a green jersey between U-23 and senior levels. Indeed, last year alone, ten of those featured in the Home Nations Internationals while another two – Nuala Landers and Sadhbh O’Connor – competed in the U-23 World Championships.

He explains the up-turn in NUIG’s fortunes began in the 1980s when the late Tom Tuohy took charge of coaching. It wasn’t long before the college began to claim national championships and between 1987 and 2007, Tuohy led NUI Galway to 10 Wylie Cups (men’s university champions).

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.