HSI anxious to patch up relations between Lynch and team boss Splaine

HORSE Sport Ireland (HSI) yesterday reiterated its willingness to meet show jumper Denis Lynch in a bid to resolve any issues he has with team manager Robert Splaine.

In a statement, it was pointed out that some of its officials had offered to travel to Europe to see Lynch last week, but that the rider had declined the offer and stated he could not see ‘any benefit’ to this.

The HSI was responding after Lynch revealed in Wednesday’s Irish Examiner that he was withdrawing from the Irish team, citing irreconcilable differences with manager Splaine.

Lynch, a key player in the Irish set-up and ranked ninth in the world, said he had considered competing for Germany, where he has lived for 16 years, but that his first allegiance would always be to Ireland. He has not ruled out riding for his native country in the future.

HSI’s statement yesterday said “the appropriate way to resolve any issues... is for the rider to sit down with the team manager and discuss them face to face. In recent weeks Denis Lynch has repeatedly declined to do this, despite several proposals to this effect from Robert Splaine.

“In addition, on January 7th, before Denis raised this issue in the media, the CEO of Horse Sport Ireland Damian McDonald spoke with (him) to suggest that Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland Joe Walsh, team manager Robert Splaine and himself were prepared to travel to Europe to meet with Denis and his owner. This offer was declined... (but) the offer to meet still stands.”

The HSI statement also alluded to any suggestion of a challenge to Splaine’s position: “We want to make it clear that it is Horse Sport Ireland’s prerogative to appoint the manager of the Irish show jumping team. In addition, any rider who wants to ride for Ireland must be willing to comply in full with Horse Sport Ireland’s rules and code of conduct.”

Lynch’s opting out came days after HSI opted not activate a break option in Splaine’s contract, meaning the Corkman remains in charge until after next year’s Olympics.

Privately, too, HSI believes Lynch breached its code of practice by voicing his concerns publicly when approached by the Irish Examiner, without him having exhausted its complaints process.

On Wednesday, Lynch said his relationship with Splaine had broken down following last year’s World Equestrian Games, where Ireland failed to realise hopes of a medal. Lynch, himself, was far from his best as the team finished 12th and failed even in its goal to qualify for next year’s Olympics.

Yesterday, in this newspaper, German coach Otto Becker said Lynch had spoken to him informally about riding for Germany, but that he had advised the 34-year-old rider to try to resolve his differences with HSI before making such a big decision.

Lynch, who was last night competing in Basel, Switzerland, declined to comment before giving the HSI offer of a meeting consideration.

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