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Niamh helps Ireland to silver at European rowing championships




By Tim O’Shea

There were celebrations in Muckross last weekend, where members of the local rowing club were closely following proceedings the European U23 Rowing Championships, taking place in Belgium.

BELGIUM: Irish rowers at the European U23 Rowing Championships in Hazewinkel Belgium. From l-r: Ciaran Purdy (silver medalist in the Men's Lightweight Single) John Armstrong (coach) Niamh Coffey (winner - B Final Women's Lightweight Single) Ryan Spellman 10th overall in the Men's Heavyweight Single. Photo: Rowing Ireland

At the Hazewinkel lake venue in the north of the country, Muckross rower Niamh Coffey was making her international rowing debut having been selected to row for Ireland just two weeks earlier during a final water trial.

Her qualification however was the culmination of years of dedicated training both on land and water and followed her participation in several rounds of trials over the past rowing year.


In a sign of the highly competitive standards required for qualification, the University of Limerick student was selected as the sole female representative for the prestigious competition with just two male rowers also selected, namely Ciaran Purdy of Queens University Boat Club and Ryan Spellman, a fellow student and rowing teammate of Niamh with UL.

Niamh, the daughter of Sean Coffey and Denise Casey of Muckross, continues a successful family tradition in the sport of rowing.

Niamh’s own involvement in rowing began during her first year in secondary school and from an early stage, her talent and commitment to the sport was evident.

In the past two years, Niamh has continued to develop her rowing talent and has met the rigours of a demanding training programme head on, all the while balancing her training with her studies in physiotherapy.

In 2021, Niamh caught the attention of many in the Irish rowing scene in winning not one but four Irish championship titles in a single weekend.

This resulted in Niamh’s eligibility ascending to the Senior grade of Irish rowing for the 2022 season with the Irish Championships of July this year witnessing a very memorable win for Niamh and her family.

Niamh’s talent did not go unnoticed by the Irish coaches who oversee the Rowing Ireland High Performance programme from their base at the National Rowing Centre.

Niamh’s selection for the European U23 Championships saw her train under the guidance of renowned Queens University coach John Armstrong.


On Saturday last, Niamh made her mark in the first of three heats with an impressive win over scullers from Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Finland.

This saw her qualify directly from the A/B semi-finals on Sunday morning with tough competition waiting from the competing heat races. In her semi-final race, Niamh was fourth with the competitors from Greece, Great Britain and Italy claiming the A final places and Niamh progressing to the B final.

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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor,    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]




By Michael O’Connor,   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.


Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at


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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]




By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.


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