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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 9 May 2021

'Devastating' and 'drastic' - Galway boss hits out at decision to cut 10 teams from championship

Cathal Murray’s intermediate side had already played one game before the announcement was made.

The Galway intermediate camogie team before last year's All-Ireland final against Westmeath.
The Galway intermediate camogie team before last year's All-Ireland final against Westmeath.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

GALWAY CAMOGIE BOSS Cathal Murray says the decision to remove 10 teams from the All-Ireland Intermediate and Premier Junior championships was a “very drastic” measure to take. 

The Camogie Association was instructed to limit the number of teams competing in the championships by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media last weekk. The directive is based on public health guidance during Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions. 

Galway, Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny and Tipperary all field second teams in the Intermediate championship while Offaly, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick and Clare feature in the Premier Junior competition.

All 10 teams have now been cut from these lower tier championships, having already fulfilled some of their fixtures, while their senior outfits are free to continue playing.

“It is a big blow,” Murray tells The42 after leading his Galway seniors to All-Ireland glory last year while his intermediate team lost out to Westmeath earlier that day.

The two panels normally train together but had been training separately since returning to the pitch under the new Covid-19 conditions.

“Going back to last year’s All-Ireland final, we lost by two points and obviously that was very hard on the girls. We’ve done an awful lot of work since to try and get back again this year.

“We’ve been back training since last November. That’s nearly a full year’s training.

“We played Dublin last week and had a really good win. And to get this news the following week is very hard.”

Murray says that the Galway county board were officially informed that their intermediate team was being removed from the championship on Friday morning, after hearing rumours of an impending decision the night before.

His side was supposed to play Laois next weekend with the prospect of reaching the All-Ireland semi-finals on the horizon, but those plans have now been scuppered.

Murray argues that there was insufficient communication before the announcement was made. He also believes that these games involving the teams that have been withdrawn should be postponed, with a view to reassessing the situation in the coming weeks.

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“The lack of communication around it, that is very hard on the players,” says Murray.

“They’re devastated. They’re 12 months training going into this, we lost out in the league and we’ve a good few players in the minor panel as well. It is devastating. It was hard enough to lose last year’s final by two points but to have to sit on the sidelines and watch the championship ongoing is really hard on them.

“It doesn’t sit well with me the way it’s gone and the way it’s been communicated.

“If you had gone to the counties and explained to them, ‘we’re under pressure here and these are our options.’

“At least we’d be involved in the discussions and communicated to let us know what’s going on. Then you’d say ‘fair enough.’”

Murray concludes that this decision is particularly disappointing, given the emphasis that is being placed on women’s sport through the 20×20 campaign.

“It’s very hard on girls. It’s 2020, that was the big thing this year and increasing women’s participation in sport and I just think if it was a decision the GAA were making, it would be a very different outcome for us to be straight about it. I can’t understand it to be straight about it.”

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