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'It's a huge honour to play dual status - if players want to do it, they should be able to'

Cork star Eimear Scally has hailed recent ‘good and healthy’ decision-making to avoid another dual clash.

CORK FOOTBALL STAR Eimear Scally has hailed her manager Ephie Fitzgerald’s “good and healthy” decision to release dual players should the Rebels’ camogie side reach their league final.

Gourmet Food Parlour 2019 HEC Ladies Football Championship Launch Cork and UL star Eimear Scally. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

There’s been no shortage of fixture clashes over the past few years and with another on the horizon on 24 March, any issues have been rectified in good time. 

The Division 1 camogie final, which back-to-back All-Ireland champions Cork are expected to reach, is pencilled in for that day while Fitzgerald’s footballers are also due to face Mayo in their Round 6 Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 fixture.

It comes as a double-header in Elvery’s MacHale Park but should the camógs reach their decider, dual stars Hannah Looney and Libby Coppinger will line out exclusively with them.

Scally had been vocal on dual clashes before, posting a passionate message on her Instagram account last year when one arose ahead of the two sides’ All-Ireland semi-finals.

It was thankfully avoided in the end, and 22-year-old Scally is pleased to see another steered cleared of this time around.

View this post on Instagram

I love football, it’s a part of who I am and it has shaped me into the person I am today. Without football and the LGFA, there is many things I wouldn’t have experienced in my playing career and with the body that represents the LGFA, they put in terrific work year after year with so many things. Sadly, on this occasion I feel the association is forgetting about the most important thing , the players. This dual clash is something that can be so easily avoided and hearing Libby Coppinger speak in her POTM interview yesterday made me feel so proud of the player/ person that I get to play with week in, week out. It makes me feel incredibly angry that broadcasting rights are a reason that the players, Libby & Hannah Looney are being put second, with this fixture clash on the 18th. We should be commending dual players, not punishing them by making them choose to play either camogie/football in what will be the biggest game in each code so far this year for them. This happens too often and it shouldn’t be an issue anymore. I hope sense will prevail here. Let’s really see the ‘Serious Support’ that’s pushed so much this year by the LGFA, let’s really back our players!

A post shared by Eimear Scally (@scallywag14) on

“Paudie [Murrary] and Ephie [Fitzgerald] would be talking,” the UL forward said at the launch of the Gourmet Food Parlour HEC Ladies Football Championships on Tuesday.

“It’s important for them that they can have a good relationship, that they can talk and communicate properly. No girl wants to be making that decision and I don’t think it is fair.

“Normally that’s not the case, but I have heard it’s the case with some players and I just think it’s an absolute farce that sometimes egos get in the way. Luckily, within my own teams that’s never been the case.

“So I think it’s a good and healthy decision that the girls are released. They shouldn’t have to play two games on the same weekend, never mind the same day.

“The LGFA have proven time and time again that they’re going to put their best foot forward. They did a huge a thing for our team last year by switching the semi-final around. We couldn’t have been more appreciative of it at the time.

“I really think the LGFA have always put the players’ best interests at heart. I do think they’re pushing on again this year to make sure that it won’t happen for a big game.” 

Hannah Looney with Colette Dormer Cork dual star Hannah Looney. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Scally, who plays her club football with Éire Óg, was full of praise for her team-mates who play both codes, saying that she finds it difficult enough to manage the one.

Between club, college and county; it is a huge commitment, never mind having double that load with camogie on top.

“I don’t know how they do it,” she ponders. “We were only discussing it last week – how did the likes of Rena and Briege do it for years? I already feel hard done by for just playing football!

“Libby and Hannah are a credit to themselves, they put in huge work year after year. They say nothing, they just get on with it. If they’re told to be here, they’re there. They need their bits of breaks too, and you can always understand if they miss a training session here and there.

“There’s no point in them being at 70% tilt the whole time. They might as well go all out, and miss the odd training here and there if it means that they can go at 100%.”

She, for one, celebrates the dual player and well and truly hopes that it’s a breed that’s not dying, like it has in the men’s game.

“I hope not,” she says. “People need to realise… well people do realise that it’s a huge honour to be able to play dual status.

“I know Orla O’Dwyer from Tipp is doing it, and she’s doing well. I really personally hope it won’t go that way. It’s such a professional outfit now between the LGFA and the camogie and I think players are coping as best they can.

Galway v Cork - Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 1 Round 7 Eimear Scally. Source: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

“Again, I don’t know how they do it but I don’t think it will get to that stage again. If the players want to do it, they should be able to do it.”

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She played camogie herself until football took over and won’t rule out a comeback in the future, but Scally is unsure whether an LGFA merge with the GAA and Camogie Association would help with fixture planning. 

“I suppose the associations have been doing great by themselves,” she says. “I do think it would bring it on another bit but it would be important that the two bodies work equally together, that there’s no demand for the GAA to be making its decisions.

“They need to work together. I think it would be important for them to get together, but at the same time they’re doing great by themselves too.”

In further good news in the Cork camp, two Páirc Uí Chaoimh double-headers have been set for the league, and another in the Munster championship.

This means a first competitive appearance for the 11-time All-Ireland champions at the iconic county grounds, and is something that really pleases Scally.

“Look, we’re always trying to raise the profile of the ladies football,” she smiles. “We were very lucky to get a few sessions in there last year coming up to the All-Ireland semi-final and final.

“I know Tracey Kennedy would’ve put in work and the lads would have put in huge work to make this happen.

A general view of Pairc Ui Chaoimh A general view of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“I suppose there’s been so much emphasis put on it in the county there the last while that the Cork ladies never got to play there. I just feel bad for a lot of the girls who never got to play in there, but like we’re absolutely delighted.”

She adds, on showcasing the game to a wider audience ahead of their male counterparts: 

” You’d be talking to a lot of auld lads back at home and they’d be like, ‘Jesus I watched the game, and Jesus it’s as good as the men’s football to watch’ so I suppose for people to be subjected to that and get to see us, it might encourage them to come watch us play or tune into us a little but more.

“It will just get people talking a bit more about us and ladies football in general.”

Last year was Scally’s fifth year on the Cork senior team but her first All-Ireland final to start in, and while they’ve been seen as a team in transition over the past while, she now rejects that.

She’s well aware of how young they are, but feels they can push back-to-back All-Ireland champions Dublin all the way in 2019. That said, the gap is closing and any team on any day could easily contend, she adds.

“We’ve all had All-Ireland success between minor and senior so we all need to believe that we’re good enough, old enough and bold enough to go on and push on to win an All-Ireland this year.

Eimear Scally During last year's All-Ireland final. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“Niamh McEvoy [Dublin star] was on about the Galway team coming up, beating them in the league. Galway have always been there or thereabouts. I think there’s no reason why the likes of Galway, Donegal, Mayo, Monaghan [could upset the odds]; all these top teams, it could be anyone.

“There’s frights in the GAA every year, and that’s the beauty of the GAA – anyone can win it. I know ourselves and Dublin have been dominating the All-Irelands but there’s nothing between the teams.”

***

Just over a week out from the 2019 Six Nations openers, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey are joined by Bernard Jackman to look at Ireland’s bid for another Grand Slam:


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