THE sudden stoppage of club activity is certainly a disappointment.
The Cork club championships were running fluently. We had just one senior delay for a week for Covid testing and that was a great return in what was a very uncertain time.
Controls were relaxing in many settings, not in camogie but within the entire GAA family and something had to be done. It’s disappointing for those that were doing everything by the book.
Just as with many pubs and restaurants who were doing everything right, it’s still a blanket ban across the board.
The camogie fixtures were flowing brilliantly in what was a fabulously run condensed period and another couple of weeks would have seen it out. The juvenile committee had eight finals planned for this weekend in addition to two minor finals with the remaining two next weekend.
The Camogie Association delayed their statement by a day. I’m not sure why, we were always going to follow suit. Maybe if the season was almost complete they would have let it run but with every county at different stages you just have to call it.
Courcey Rovers would have appreciated that break had it come a week earlier as they were a tired team that lined out against Inagh Kilnamona last Sunday. The turnaround was too short whereas Inagh had a three-week break and it showed.
Inagh played good hurling too and deserved their victory.
It’ll suit the likes of Waterford and Clare, with Gailltír and Inagh due to contest the Munster final this weekend. Waterford manager Fergal O’Brien was up in arms last week about the Munster Club Championship going ahead when the Leinster championship isn’t scheduled until January. With such a large contingent of Gailltír players on his county panel, he couldn’t get a squad together for training.
It wasn’t a level playing field, he argued. And he was right.
It was left up to each provincial board to set their provincial club dates but when the club county championships were over it was expected that the players would get a clear inter-county run before the championship throws in next weekend. The Courcey Rovers players had to train with Cork last week and Saoirse McCarthy picked up a shoulder injury ruling her out of last Sunday’s semi-final and she was a big loss.
The ban freed up the Munster club finalists from last Monday so there are some few happy with the current situation anyway.
There’s an almost palpable tension in the air whenever NPHET are meeting Government as the country holds its breath, and not like we did in 1990. You’d wonder if the inter-county scene will survive the next few months.
Hard to tell. But imagine getting to semi-final stage and it pausing until after Christmas. What a drag of a season that would be and it would damage 2021 title hopes as you just can’t run one season into another and expect to be at your peak mentally and physically.
January and February are our worst weather months in recent years with numerous games called off so trying to finish a championship in those conditions won’t be easy either. But we’ll be positive and see how it goes.
Camogie-wise it’ll be interesting to see who has prepared best ahead of championship. Cork initially had five games in their group. They now have three, Offaly, Galway and Wexford. Not a bad draw except just one team advances to the semi-final with second- and third-placed entering the quarter-finals.
That’s not a bad option either. Cork were doing very well in the league.
While they had two games left to play against Offaly and Clare (postponed due to bad weather) it was envisaged, based on other results that they had a great chance of winning it out. Tipperary were already through to the final and they must feel really unfortunate as a league title would do wonders for them.
It would have been very useful for Cork’s new panel introductions too but as we all know now, the league was cancelled.
Galway and Kilkenny didn’t have the best of leagues. Kilkenny in particular were very disappointing, finishing second from bottom at the time of cancellation. Galway lost to Tipp and came second, with no semi-finals in this year’s league competition.
Maybe the break will have done them more good than harm. I’m sure many counties were doing some non-contact training behind closed doors during the lockdown. I’d imagine it's very hard to pick the Kilkenny girls up after losing another All-Ireland last September, their fifth final loss in six appearances over the past seven years.
Galway have had a lot of underage success and with Cathal Murray still in charge and having the respect of the players they should be to the forefront again.
Cork have lost Orla Cotter and Aoife Murray from their first 15. Laura Treacy is out injured with a broken hand but Cork still have the nucleus of a strong team and with the blend of new panel members will, of course, be title hunting again.
The test rules that were in play for the league are being maintained for the championship.
Let’s hope we have free-flowing games that allow the players to get on with it as we look forward to another inter-county campaign.