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'A bit of a disaster really... We’re just glad it’s sorted now' - Moving on from camogie controversy

Cork’s Amy O’Connor says she’s relieved that the saga has been resolved.

CAMOGIE STAR AMY O’Connor has expressed her relief that the recent fixtures controversy has been resolved, allowing the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues to begin as scheduled this weekend.

littlewoods-ireland-camogie-leagues-launch Cork forward Amy O'Connor. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

A poll of all clubs regarding the format for this season resulted in 53% of respondents voting in favour of a split season.

This means that inter-county competitions will be played first in 2021 followed by club activity later in the year. It also aligns with the LGFA’s fixture schedule for 2021.

The result brings a turbulent time for the association to a close after county teams threatened to boycott the leagues over their opposition to the association’s initial plans for the season.

The poll was announced on the back of a period in which the Camogie Association was heavily criticised for proposing a schedule which would follow an inter-county/club/inter-county format.

This was presented as another option for clubs to consider in the poll and received 47% of the votes.

Cork’s O’Connor says she can understand why some clubs would favour this approach, but is relieved that the other option was selected and that the entire saga has been resolved.

“I definitely feel for players like that,” she told the media at the launch of the National Leagues.

“They put so much into it and the club is the most important part of our game. It’s just a shame that this has come to a head now. But I think there’s been multiple things laid out on social media outlining how it could be accommodated and I hope the association can take a look at that, just like they looked at ours.

“It’s clear that they’re open-minded and they’re willing to take a look at things if people are not happy. I’m hoping they’ll get the opportunity to play their interprovincial [competitions]. They worked so hard last year and I’m sure they were all training on Zoom for the last however long since their county finals.

“I think it was a bit of a disaster, really, in the last few weeks. Preparations for the league weren’t ideal and we were all looking forward to getting back playing after being out for so long.

“I think our message in Cork was very clear. We came out multiple times in the press last week and made our feelings known to everyone so that was very clear about he felt about the entire situation.

“It wasn’t ideal preparation but it’s been resolved now and we’re just happy to get back on the pitch playing on Saturday.”

Last week, the GPA published the findings of a survey which revealed that 84% of players would refuse to play in the National League over how the fixture plans would affect dual players.

Despite the outside noise that was surrounding the camogie format at the time, O’Connor says her team-mates were able to remove themselves from it at training, and focus on their league opener against Tipperary on Saturday.

And with a split-season structure now in place, she hopes that both the Camogie Association and the LGFA will co-ordinate their fixture plans to ensure no dual players are hampered by clashes at inter-county level in 2021.

“I know we’ve had some clashes in the past but I’d hope we’re past that now and both associations would be able to communicate and avoid clashes like that.

clare-hehir-and-amy-oconnor O'Connor in possession for Cork during the 2020 championship. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“I think with the previous fixtures, the initial proposal, it would have been next to impossible for any of our dual players to play with their clubs this year.

“I suppose in Cork, we’re affected a lot with dual players. It just wouldn’t have been fair for those players to go ahead with that.

“There would have been a lot of demands and stress on those players as well. They don’t want to pick between their club camogie team and their inter-county football team.”

There was some positive news for female GAA players this week after it was announced that their state funding will be trebled to €2.4 million which will establish parity with the male players.

O’Connor says it’s an “unbelievable change” for players in both the LGFA and Camogie Association and lamented that the story was perhaps overshadowed in the public domain by the format controversy.

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However, there has been other unfortunate news for camogie this week. In advance of the league, competition sponsors Littlewoods Ireland conducted research to gauge the country’s feelings towards the sport.

They found that 89% of the population cannot name a current inter-county camogie player.

“I was and I wasn’t shocked,” O’Connor replies when asked for her thoughts on the data that was collected.

“It’s an astonishing fact, that 89% of the country can’t identify a senior inter-county camogie player. That’s unbelievable. When you’re in the camogie bubble, you can’t really understand how people can’t recognise a county player, but hopefully that fact will trigger people and urge them to support these women more, to support camogie more.

“You’d hope that it will encourage people to just go out and go to games, to support these women, to see how athletic they are you know. Going back to the funding, that can only improve players and improve exposure. Having such a brand like Littlewoods to commit so hugely to camogie is unbelievable too.

“They’ve been exceptional sponsors over the last five years and what they’ve done for camogie is amazing. I’m really excited to see this campaign, it’s their biggest campaign yet.” 

New research conducted by Littlewoods Ireland reveals 89% of the population cannot name a current Camogie player, but Littlewoods Ireland is determined to change that.

The Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues begin Saturday 15th of May. Littlewoods Ireland and the Camogie Association will be live streaming a number of games throughout the Leagues for free across @LWI_GAA Twitter. #StyleOfPlay


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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