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'Hurling is unbelievable and we can make camogie like that as well'

Cork star Amy O’Connor is keen to promote the game in a positive light.

Cork star Amy O'Connor with her cousin Kerrie Horgan urging camogie fans to 'Go Together'.
Cork star Amy O'Connor with her cousin Kerrie Horgan urging camogie fans to 'Go Together'.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

CORK STAR FORWARD Amy O’Connor is keen to promote camogie in a more positive light amid all the negativity around archaic rules and the likes. 

The four-time All-Ireland winner didn’t hold back in an interview with The42 in January saying that the game has become “boring to play” and “boring to watch”.

While she echoed some of those words at a Camogie Association event yesterday which called on supporters to ‘Go Together’ as they aim to break 25,000 All-Ireland finals attendance, O’Connor stressed how attractive a product the game can be.

Simple: just let it flow.

“We just want a bit more flow to the games,” she told the media in Croke Park. “You can’t blame referees because if you look at the rule books and their performances they’re probably a 10 out of 10 because they’re following the rules.

“We had a referee in Cork club championship game a few weeks ago and he was absolutely outstanding, so good. I’d never seen him before but he let the game flow and there was nothing dangerous, nothing malicious. It wasn’t stop-start, stop-start.

People want to watch an exciting game. I’m constantly promoting camogie – that it’s the most skilful game a woman can play, the fastest game a woman can play, we need to show that it is.

“Leave the games flow more, leave them be more exciting, leave players be able to demonstrate how quick and skilful they are without stop-starting for stupid things.”

It really is about exposure; promoting the game, and getting it out there more and more.

“In a positive light,” she agrees, “get the attendances up and get young girls playing it.

“A lot of girls are picking up ladies football because there’s so much promotion around it. If we can promote camogie more it’ll be better in the future. It’s the most skilful game a woman can play, and the fastest game a woman can play. If we can get that out there, get children wanting to play camogie; just try get it out there that it is such an exciting game to watch.

Men’s hurling is unbelievable to watch and we can make camogie like that as well, if we just promote it more, get more people at games and leave them flow more. Like, we train just as hard as the men, just as much as the men, and just as long as the men but it’s just… I don’t know.

“It’s tough seeing 80,000 people out there,” the St Vincent’s club woman adds of the frustration from time to time, “but you’ve to remember the men are under so much scrutiny as well.

“It’s kind of a balancing act. Sometimes you’re happy you’re not under the spotlight as much. If some of them have a bad game, their families are getting messages. That’s probably one positive to not being in the limelight as much as the men, but obviously we want to get the game out there and promote it as much as we can.”

An extremely talented underage international player, O’Connor gave up soccer two years ago to focus on the small ball game. 

She’s played ladies football at county level too, but it’s something that hinders camogie’s progress in certain areas, she fears.

Just take Knocknaheeny, the area of Cork city she’s from, for example.

“I’d be concerned about ladies football,” the 22-year-old explains. “Our club amalgamated with another club; and it’s easier to pick up for young kids, it’s cheaper, you don’t need a helmet or hurley.

They’re doing great work in my club, but the area we’re in it’s hard to keep girls in it at 14, 15. We had some talented girls and it’s hard to see them go into other areas. It’s frustrating but we have to keep working hard to change it.

“The girls seeing myself play in Croke Park, they know someone from my area can do that, it’s a girl from down the road. I played with Cork ladies football until I was minor but I was trying to get into pharmacy, trying to play soccer for Ireland and camogie for Cork and I couldn’t do it…. I love playing football but I’d never give up camogie for it.”

Back to the inter-county scene, and a last word goes to Cork’s three in-a-row bid, of course. And understandably, O’Connor is reluctant to say much. 

“We need to improve,” as the almost-qualified pharmacist said earlier in the conversation, with the reigning champions’ spot safely secured in the All-Ireland semi-finals. ”If you don’t perform you’re going to be beaten.”

Three in-a-row though?

“Everyone asks me about it but we genuinely don’t talk about it,” she concludes.

Today we had the cup there but I forget about it: it’s in the past and we’ve nothing won this year. No cork team has done it before, there’s a huge task ahead of us.

“We’re probably behind where we were last year and probably have a bit to do. This is my sixth or seventh year, I played that day [Cork fell in their last three in-a-row bid] so hopefully we’ll have learned from it.”

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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