CORK boss Paudie Murray has called on the Camogie Association to ensure that games in the forthcoming All-Ireland Championship are staged at top-grade venues.
Unlike the customary summertime running off of the campaign, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in this year’s competition opening in mid-October and winding up with the All-Ireland final on December 12.
“Obviously the weather and the condition of the pitches for the matches won’t be as good as in the summer, so it’s very important that they are fixed for venues with good quality pitches and excellent facilities.
“If that doesn’t prove to be the case, then a lot of the matches in the championship could turn out to be dire affairs with very little play of a decent quality.
“I think it would be a good idea if grounds with floodlight facilities were chosen because sometimes the light is not very good even reasonably early on in the afternoon.
“So we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that a lot of emphasis will be put on the importance of fixing the games for top-grade venues.”
In the Rebels’ open outing, Murray’s charges face an away clash against Offaly on the weekend of October 17/18, and they host Wexford on October 31/November 1, before concluding their campaign away to All-Ireland champions Galway on November 7/8.
“Offaly play most of their games at Birr, and that’s an exceptional venue, and I suppose the likes of Pearse Stadium or Ballinasloe would be very acceptable for our game against Galway.
“With regard to our home game against Wexford, we would be very happy with either Páirc Uí Chaoimh or Páirc Uí Rinn, and in the past the County Board have been very good to us with regard to venues for our matches.”
Cork won the All-Ireland title in 2017 and 2018 but were beaten by Galway in last year's semi-final.
“This year, in the two league games that we played against Waterford and Kilkenny, both of which we won, we brought in a lot of new players with the average age of the team being only about 22,” he pointed out.
“So we will be probably be using a lot of inexperienced players in this year’s championship.
“As well, our goalkeeper Aoife Murray [his sister] has retired, there’s a question mark over whether Gemma O’Connor will be with us, and Orla Cotter will be hardly be involved as she’s now living in New York.
“And we also be without Niamh McCarthy this year.
“It’s also not in our favour that the County Board have put their main priority on the county club championship this year, with the result that this won’t be finished until the end of September.
“So we will only have time to hold about six training sessions before we play our opening game against Offaly, but we’ve just got to get on with it and do our best.”