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Should inter-county action be first to come back in camogie and Ladies football?

WGPA chairperson Maria Kinsella says there is an argument to play inter-county games first.

The inter-county camogie and lLadies football championships will commence in October.
The inter-county camogie and lLadies football championships will commence in October.
Image: Inpho/Photojoiner

WGPA CHAIRPERSON MARIA Kinsella says she can understand why club games will be the first competitions to resume in 2020, but believes there was an opportunity there to use that window for inter-county games.

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA] and the Camogie Association have revealed their schedules, with inter-county competitions beginning in October. The National League competitions have been scrapped. 

Club fixtures may resume from Friday, 17 July according to a recent joint-statement released by the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association.

The GAA has opted to restart the season by playing club competitions first on account of the reduced numbers involved at this level, which makes social distancing protocols easier to implement.

The strategy also serves the nationwide appetite to prioritise the club game.

The LGFA and Camogie Association have followed that example, but many feel that there was an opportunity there to stage inter-county games first and potentially enjoy increased levels of media coverage that would otherwise be focused on the men’s games.

“I think there was an opportunity there,” Kinsella tells The42.

“Personally though, I think it was great to see the LGFA and the Camogie association being included on the GAA Covid-19 advisory group.

“Since then, there’s been very clear communication as to what the roadmap and protocols are for returning to play. Up until that stage, you had perhaps the GAA making announcements and female players wondering if they’re going to roll over to them.

“From a general operation point of view and for players’ certainty, I think the clear and concise communication from the advisory group has definitely been welcomed among players.”

maria-kinsella Maria Kinsella [file photo]. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

While Kinsella acknowledges that there was a window of opportunity for the LGFA and the Camogie Association to get more exposure, she does have some concerns about exploring that option.

She also appreciates the importance of placing an emphasis on games at grassroots level.

“The BBC issued statistics last week about how their coverage was 50-50 last summer during the Women’s Fifa World Cup due to no male activity actually taking place at the time,” she said.

So if the goal of the associations was to increase the media and coverage of the game, then yes definitely, it was an opportunity.

“But I think both associations would firmly acknowledge that grassroots is the underlying principal of our games. That’s where everything starts and finishes and I think that’s why the priority was given to clubs to return first. So that all players could return to some sort of activity in the summer.”

The WGPA recently published a survey which sought the feedback of members regarding the GAA’s return to play roadmap.

Of the 869 players who responded, 32% admitted that they may not play at all in the 2020 season due to concerns over contracting Covid-19 and possibly spreading infection.

Kinsella points out that a lot of WGPA members are frontline workers who have told the WGPA that they are “uncomfortable about returning” due to the risks involved.

“There could be arguments that once guidelines are issued from the Covid-19 advisory group that perhaps players might feel more comfortable about returning.

“We’re still awaiting issuance of the protocols as to what happens when a player tests positive.”

Kinsella also said that the WGPA is concerned about the overlap in schedules between the club and inter-county game.

65% of players who responded to the WGPA survey also expressed their worry about potential clashes between their club and county teams.

“Potentially,” Kinsella continues, “what is going to happen now between 14 September and 17 October is when inter-county teams are permitted to return to training, girls will still be competing with their clubs at the business end of the championship.

“Or potentially even representing their clubs in the provincial championships which the LGFA and Camogie Association have confirmed they will run.

I think it’s really unfair for a player to have to pick between representing their club at that stage of a competition or commit to their inter-county team in preparation for the All-Ireland championship.”

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