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'It'd be massive, we deserve it' - Aim to break 25,000 attendance at All-Ireland camogie finals

Croke Park plays host to three mouthwatering deciders on Sunday.

GO TOGETHER. THAT’S the message from the Camogie Association with the biggest day in their calendar year fast approaching.

2019-liberty-insurance-all-ireland-camogie-championship-finals-launch Captains from the six All-Ireland finalists. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

On Sunday, there are new winners in store in each of the three All-Ireland finals in Croke Park with silverware up for grabs at senior, intermediate and junior level. 

At the top table, Kilkenny will be hoping to avenge back-to-back decider defeats to Cork and claim a 14th O’Duffy Cup, while league champions Galway are seeking a first title since 2013.

The Tribe also feature in the intermediate final, 2017 Premier Junior champions Westmeath their opposition there. And the Premier Junior showpiece is an all-Munster battle between last year’s finalists, Kerry, and Limerick.

The Association first called on supporters to ‘Go Together’ as they aim to break an attendance of 25,000 in July, with anticipation now building ahead of the big day.

In 2016 — when the Cats were last crowned champions — a bumper crowd of 20,037 descended on GAA HQ, with the attendance up almost 25% on the year previous.

16,610 were there in 2015, while that 20,037 number was the fifth highest-ever attendance for an All-Ireland camogie final since 1932, and the highest attendance since 2009′s all-time high of 25,924 for a standalone final.

In 2017, it was marginally up to 20,438, while 21,467 [new third-highest ever] was the official attendance last year — but that’s well short of the back-to-back record-breaking ladies football final crowds of 46,286 and 50,141 in 2017 and 2018.

And key players who are lining out on Sunday hope that 25,000 target can be reached — and broken. 

“It’d be fantastic to get to 25,000 and more if we can,” Galway captain Sarah Dervan said at Thursday’s captain’s day. 

“I do think camogie this year has turned. Everyone keeps telling me that the All-Ireland semi-final [against Cork] was a fantastic game to watch. It’d be brilliant. I just hope everyone does get behind the camogie. 

Hopefully clubs will all bring their underage. It’s important that they do, and they get to see the girls out there. It’s brilliant that the three games are now on RTÉ too. It’s all about promoting the game and girls seeing that.

Kilkenny co-captain Meighan Farrell echoed those sentiments: “It would be unreal just to get the support.

“We had an open training session there and you just see a lot of the girls coming in from your club to support. You’re like, ‘Jesus, fair play, they didn’t have to.’ It’s coming up, it’s slowly but surely coming.”

tadhg-scannell-in-the-oduffy-cup Cork were crowned senior champions last year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While camogie has often been in the headlines for the wrong reasons off the back of last year’s finals with players calling out for rule changes, the recent All-Ireland semi-finals at LIT Gaelic Grounds were a brilliant advertisement for the game. 

It’s hoped that the same will apply on Sunday, with free-flowing showdowns on the cards and players allowed showcase their skills on the biggest stage. 

And for 25,000-plus to witness that in the flesh, that would be incredible. 

“It’d be massive,” Galway intermediate skipper Laura Walsh agrees when the 25,000 target is put to her. “It’d be brilliant for camogie.

We deserve it. There’s six great teams going out there and they deserve every bit of support they get.

“I think the game has come on so much. The speed of it, the physicality. Players are so strong now…it’s lovely to see the refs let the game go. Sometimes you feel like they’re scared we’ll get hurt out there but we’re well able for it.”

Kerry star Laura Collins concluded: “If we got 25,000 this year it’d be huge.

“You can see it on social media. I have neighbours who I didn’t think knew about camogie and they ask me now how we got on. Social media is really helping and showing how good players are, it’s really getting the message out there.”

All three games will be shown live on RTÉ too, another welcome step for all involved.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Final

  • Galway v Kilkenny, Croke Park, 4.15pm Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final

  • Galway v Westmeath, Croke Park, 2pm Referee: Andrew Larkin (Cork)

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship Final

  • Kerry v Limerick, Croke Park, 12noon Referee: Gavin Donegan (Dublin)

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Emma Duffy

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