Linda Mellerick: Camogie and ladies football making a mockery of 20x20

Linda Mellerick: Camogie and ladies football making a mockery of 20x20

Libby Coppinger, Carbery, breaking past Aoife Cotter of Ballincollig during a Cork senior camogie championship match at Brinny. Picture: Dan Linehan

IT'S hard to believe we had such negative publicity all week again between the Camogie Association and the LGFA over fixture clashes. 

It’s hard to fathom that both associations made the same fixture dates for championship games on November 7 during the group stages. There is another potential clash on November 14 and absolutely mindboggling is the fact that the All-Ireland camogie and ladies football semi-finals are also fixed for the same weekend, November 28-29. 

How can both associations know this is on the cards and yet bury their heads in the sand? It doesn’t matter who set out their fixtures first. That doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility. 

Why won’t those at the head of the associations sit down and talk? Does it not bother them that once again we are being lambasted on social media for these standoffs? 

Their behaviour is making a complete mockery of the 20x20 campaign. There are so many wonderful sportswomen and men pushed for greater coverage, support and attendances at women’s sport and then the two largest female organisations in the country show a complete lack of respect for each other and fight each other every step of the way. 

We’re a laughingstock. I don’t buy this ‘the year that’s in it’ cop-out at all, the excuse being the open window is short so there is no choice. This is an annual occurrence. I’m weary of it. 

The thing about being weary is that it could lend to you throwing your hat at it and just accepting the status quo. But that’s certainly something we can’t do. ‘Associations’ and ‘delegates’ afford the people behind those titles to do damage and hide.

What is the Women's GPA's stance in all of this? From what I can see the member representatives from both codes support each other 100%. I feel the WGPA is going to have to get involved. 

Already we have Cork players threatening to strike. We could see an all-out players strike across the country in both codes if matters don’t resolve soon. What frustrates me is that in the past few years it has taken days of criticism from the Irish public before one or other organisation concedes. They will almost always concede because they have to. 

Although we have seen clubs across the country forfeit games in either code due to clashes that weren’t resolved. The nationwide support is obvious when one considers that the Galway camogie team have offered to switch the camogie game from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate Cork. 

We are still waiting at the time of writing on the association to approve that. Despite the repeated efforts of the two Cork management teams and respective county boards to get one of the games moved from November 7, both remain fixed for the first Saturday of next month. 

This is so energy-sapping for both sets of management. There are five Cork players involved in both games; Hannah Looney, Libby Coppinger, Meabh Cahalane, Fiona Keating and Ciara McCarthy.

Cork's Hannah Looney gets the ball away from Dublin's Doireann Mullany and Eimear McCarthy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork's Hannah Looney gets the ball away from Dublin's Doireann Mullany and Eimear McCarthy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Last weekend the Annual Camogie Congress took place in a virtual format for the first time due to Covid 19 restrictions. Over 100 delegates were in attendance from across Ireland as well as a number of international delegates. 

Just as happened back in March when the LGFA defeated the following motion, so too did the Camogie association by a heavy 76%.

The proposed rule, which was put forward by Dublin, states: “The camogie association recognises and supports the concept of a dual player, as defined, and will encourage all of its units to support and facilitate its playing members of all ages, who wish to do so, to play both camogie and ladies football. In doing so, the camogie association and all of its units will be conscious of and promote the welfare of all players.” 

I said back in March when the same motion was defeated at the ladies football congress that had it come before the Camogie congress it too would have failed. To be honest I find the proposal flimsy and too open-ended. 

It had to fail at the Camogie Congress. The fact that it was defeated by the LGFA, what would have happened if Camogie had passed it? 

Would the LGFA have had a carte blanche and Camogie have to play second fiddle on everything to do with the sport, not alone fixtures? That possibly was a concern among delegates.

This joined-up approach must be led from the top. Have they no shame in how they are portraying our organisations by not sitting down together? 

Is one organisation willing to and the other not? Is it part arrogance? Or are they both against it? 

I don’t know. 

All I know is that all this negativity and lack of respect for players is a slap in the face to all the good work done by volunteers and the 20x20 movement around the country.

This year’s congress saw the election of Kildare native Hilda Breslin as President-elect. She will take up her position as Uachtarán at the 2021 annual congress next April in Armagh.

Cork's Laura Treacy at the launch of the 2020 Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Championships. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Cork's Laura Treacy at the launch of the 2020 Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Championships. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The All-Ireland championships will take place over a nine-week period beginning today. This year’s championships will culminate with the senior final taking place in Croke Park on Saturday, December 12, 7pm under lights.

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