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'How are we supposed to be on par with the men's game?' - Two county finals in 26 hours for 16 players

Tipperary football star Aishling Moloney outlines Cahir’s frustrating dual fixture clash to The42.

Updated Sep 23rd 2020, 5:21 PM

A COUNTY CAMOGIE final at 12pm Saturday, a county football final at 2pm Sunday.

As things stand, that’s what 16 dual players from the Cahir club in Tipperary are facing into this weekend. 

meath-v-tipperary-tg4-all-ireland-ladies-football-intermediate-championship-final Tipperary football star Aishling Moloney is one of the Cahir dual players impacted. Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

“It’s a downright disgrace,” as one of the 16, two-time All-Ireland winning football star Aishling Moloney, said of the club’s predicament, first reported by Tipp FM.

On Saturday afternoon, Cahir are slated in to face Knockavilla in the county junior A camogie final, while on Sunday, a date with Aherlow awaits in the senior A football final.

Having already played semi-finals in both codes on the weekend of 12 and 13 September, the group — which also includes Aussie Rules ace Aisling McCarthy and county dual player Róisín Howard — are taking a stand this time around, with Moloney leading the chorus.

“We here in Cahir, the dual players are going to stand up for ourselves and be counted for,” she told The42 this morning. “It’s not just happening in our club, it’s happening all over Ireland. It’s about time now that there is a stop put to it.”

The 2019 LGFA Intermediate Player of the Year explained how Cahir “suffered the consequences in the hope that we would be in a final in both” when it came to the fixture overlap two weekends ago, just about getting over the line in the later football last-four battle.

Moloney says club camogie officers highlighted the potential county final dual fixture clash that Friday and since successfully booking showpiece dates in both codes, the entire set-up has taken action.

“We tried to throw some light on this,” she explains. “We followed procedures, our club officers got behind us, they backed us fully. We sent a players’ letter to the camogie county board, trying to get an answer from them.

They said that they felt that there isn’t a fixture clash this weekend. With 26 hours between the two games, they feel that there isn’t any. From what we gather, they actually don’t acknowledge this or see that there’s any player welfare issues there that we highlighted.

“This weekend is always football finals weekend, the 27th. Camogie weekend was last weekend, the intermediate and senior teams played but somehow, the junior game was put forward to this Saturday coming. This was flagged weeks ago, that this might be a possible clash.

“In the players’ letter, we said if they’re not going to accommodate us, we have no other choice but to go to the media, so here we are now. We should be enjoying the lead-up to a county final this weekend but instead, we’re trying to battle our case, look for common sense to prevail and someone out there to recognise that this actually isn’t okay for player welfare reasons, and this cannot go ahead.”

Her frustration and disheartenment is clear as day, compounded by the fact that the camogie final is in no rush to be played with the progression to Munster or All-Ireland championship out of the question.

But it’s about much more than that.

“We’re trying to promote for underage players to get involved with both football and camogie but we’re striving for women’s rights as well. If people aren’t going to see common sense, how are we supposed to be on par with the men’s — this is something so simple and can be solved?

“Personally, I think that this is just foundation level respect to players. It’s something that can be overcome.
We have 16 dual players, with 10 being starters. We have Alan O’Connor in charge [of the camogie team], he was involved when Loughmore-Castleiney won the double back in 2013. Even from speaking to him, he said that this would never be an issue in the men’s game. Loughmore again had the same issue this year, and they were accommodated.”

“It’s severely and highly frustrating,” she adds. ” Common sense is an overused word at this stage, we acknowledge that officers are working as volunteers but someone has to wake up and put a stop to this once and for all.

“The games are to be enjoyed while promoting respect and decency amongst our younger players, and leaders in such positions need to start to follow suit. All we’re asking for is just common sense and a bit of decency and respect to shine through.”

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cahir-team-celebrate-with-player-of-the-game-aishling-moloney-lifted-shoulder-high Cahir won the All-Ireland intermediate camogie championship in 2016. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

In a Twitter thread which has amassed over 1.6k likes and many, many shares since late last night, 22-year-old Moloney stated that more often than not, she’s not surprised that these dual fixture clashes occur.

It’s happened time and time again through the years at both club and county level, and is continuing to happen across the length and breadth of the country.

“It certainly isn’t just happening in Tipp,” Moloney — who self-admittedly generally stays quiet in the eye of controversy — nods. “We’re not crowing on behalf of ourselves for self-pity. When the dual players met as a group, we actually said we want to stand up for this across Ireland because there’s too much of it going on.

Firstly, we were kind of saying to ourselves, ‘Look, will we we just leave it off?’ But then a few of us said ‘No, we’re constantly brushing things under the blanket and it’s about time that we actually stood up.’

“Since I put up that tweet last night, I must have 50 or 60 private messages of people writing to me — girls in particular from across Ireland — saying they’re in the same position this weekend, thanking us for standing up for it and how it’s about time that someone did.

“We’re not here crowing for ourselves, we’re here crowing on behalf of everyone that these things are so easily solved with a bit of communication and a bit of cop on.

“Look, we wouldn’t be in this position this weekend if leaders within our county board stood up and had a bit of common sense about it all and spoke and communicated. We wouldn’t be sitting here, not looking forward to a county final but instead wondering are we going to have to play two games in-a-row within 26 hours.”

While online support from football final opponents Aherlow has pleased Moloney, she feels that the best outcome for all involved is that the camogie decider is pushed on.

“This situation is just so preventable with a bit of communication. The simple solution we’re asking for is that there’s absolutely no rush on playing this camogie, it could be pushed on to the following weekend or weeks after that also.

“We’re going to struggle with that county final on Sunday, but everyone wants to see a good spectacle on show. They don’t want to see 16 girls arriving wrecked, tired and exhausted and having to play a county final. 

“It’s not as if we’re trying to look for attention, we played that weekend, the 12/13, and it took us a week to recover from it. Our bodies were just in bits and it’s just not enjoyable.

“Sport is there to be enjoyed, not to be going around stressing. Luckily I’m not back in college yet but some girls go back into jobs Monday. Having to go into their job and face having to play two games at the weekend, it’s not really funny anymore.

“It’s going on too long now and with all the commotion going on at the minute now, we need to start driving forward. A stop needs to be put to it all.”

“It’s just frustrating,” she concludes. “All we’re asking for really is just for someone to stand up and be a leader once and for all and just show show a bit of respect to the players that are playing.”

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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