Speaking after receiving an award at the Irish Youth Foundation Excellence in Sport Awards at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin, O’Driscoll — who won gold medals for Ireland at both the 2017 European and World Rowing Championships in the lightweight men’s pair category with O’Donovan — reflected on past near-misses and said the pair resolved this would be the year they stepped up a level.
“We had a bit more belief in ourselves and to put it simply, we didn’t want to come fourth again. We wanted to win a medal at every regatta,” said O’Driscoll.
“We focused on overcoming our doubts and giving it everything because there’s no point in going out there if you think you can’t do it or you’re not 100% committed and I think that’s something all the sports people in the audience could identify with.
“This is the first national recognition award we’ve received since the World Championships and it means an awful lot to us. It’s nice to reflect on your achievements and we’re delighted to be recognised. It will keep us going for a while.”
The charity event was hosted by golf superstar Pádraig Harrington and saw the Cork rowers receive their award alongside rugby legend Paul O’Connell, European gold medal-winning sprinter Gina Akpe-Moses, father-and-son horse racing duo Aidan and Joseph O’Brien, World Rugby Referee of the Year Joy Neville and boxing hero Michael Carruth.
Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland, the Dublin GAA team, and the Irish showjumping team were also recognised at the ceremony held in aid of the Irish Youth Foundation.