Three sports in the Jes
The Jes Senior Hockey team beat Foyle/Londonderry in a thrilling final to win the Kate Russell All-Ireland Cup. The Jes came back from one-nil down at half time to lead two-one in the second half. However, with just 5 minutes remaining, Foyle scored an equaliser to force the game into the ‘Golden Goal’ extra time. In a goalmouth scramble after 5 minutes, Isabelle Mortimer scored to send Jes supporters wild and the team into the history books! Elsewhere the Jes Mountaineering Club, as part of the ‘Four highest peaks in the 4 provinces’, climbed Wicklow‘s Lugnaquilla.
Which leaves rowing: both boys and girls continue the great rowing tradition of the Jes, well described in the Irish Times in the article below.
BATTLING TO BE KINGS OF THE CORRIB
Every week, the boys and the girls on Coláiste Iognáid’s rowing teams have “an active rest day”. It’s their day off. All they have to do is go for “a light swim” or “a light jog” for 40 minutes. It’s the kind of dust-down that would leave many a gym member quietly satisfied with their endeavours until the following weekend’s gym visit.
But then rowing, along with cycling and cross-country skiing, is at the Tom Crean-end of the sports spectrum in terms of the teeth-grinding demands it makes on body and mind. As Bernie O’Connell, the school’s principal, remarks, even in his day as a student: “It wasn’t unknown for the oars people to train on Christmas Day. It was almost a badge of honour. The intensity is huge.”
These days, the rowers from Coláiste Iognáid, Galway’s storied Jesuit secondary school, clock in nine training sessions a week. Only three involve rowing on the water; the others are a mixed bag of weights, fitness and ergometer sessions, the latter, known as “erg”, entails horsing backwards and forwards, and backwards and forwards, and backwards and forwards, on a dreaded indoor-rowing machine.
“There’s not one thing to like about it,” says Eavan Boland, the school’s girl’s captain; except maybe getting off it at the end.
And any romantic notions you might have about outdoor rowing, about ambling down a river, the steam rising from it on a crisp, foggy morning, are quickly dispelled. As the rowers, “in the water by seven”, battle with currents and the weather gods, there’s little time for aesthetic indulgences, for taking in the scenery.
“I suppose you did – in first year,” says Ian Murphy, the school’s rowing captain. “You kind of know it so there’s nothing new to look at.”
“Seventy per cent of the days it’s rainy and windy, and water’s coming into the boat,” says Boland. “It’s so uncomfortable sometimes on the bad weather days. The water would be very choppy, and the boat would be bobbing up and down.”
“Sometimes you can get a very bad flow – when you’re going straight into a headwind – it’s like pulling into toffee instead of water,” adds Murphy. “You take a stroke, and the boat stops. Then you’ve to take another one. You’re almost not moving.”
Nothing gets the “Jes” boats moving through the water faster than when they take on “the Bish”, their great local rivals, the all-boys St Joseph’s College. As there is no inter-schools Irish rowing championship, Coláiste Iognáid “take on all comers”, explains Pat Bracken, who has orchestrated the schools’ rowing teams for the last 15 years.
For the title of “kings of the Corrib”, for example, the boys’ team will compete against “the Bish”, the Tribesmen and NUI Galway’s team, while nationally other clubs they regularly compete with include the teams thrown up by schools such as Belfast’s Methodist College and Presentation Brothers College in Cork.
Everything is geared towards the National Rowing Championships. The highlight of the regatta season is held at the National Rowing Centre at Inniscarra, Co Cork, in early-July every year. Competing against schools such as King’s Hospital and Enniskillen’s Portora Royal School, it is a domain in which Coláiste Iognáid’s girls’ team dominate. They have won nine under-18 titles, more than any other school.
Of course, the school has a rich tradition to uphold. It has been turning out rowing teams since the mid-1930s, and in keeping with the school’s four main tenets – that it is Catholic, Jesuit, Irish and free – the cost of rowing for the school’s rowing club, in which there are 75 members, is not prohibitive.
Bar clothing, all equipment is provided, the best of which is naturally squabbled over when the boys and girls, who train separately, set on the river for “a spin”.
“We just fight for the better boats and the better oars,” says Murphy.
“It shouldn’t be so bad anymore because the school is quite well equipped,” assures Bracken, before adding, to titters of laughter in the room, “if there is friction, I don’t think it has anything to do with the boats.”
Founded: Established in Galway in 1645; battered by Cromwellian and Jacobite wars, religious persecution and resource difficulties, it re-emerged on Eyre Square in 1859 before moving to Bóthar na Mara in 1863.