The Linda Mellerick column: Lockdown threat puts inter-county season in doubt

The Linda Mellerick column: Lockdown threat puts inter-county season in doubt
Aoife Hurley, St Catherine’s, going past Ballygarvan player Ellen O’Regan during their SE Systems Senior Camogie championship match at Castle Road. Picture: Dan Linehan

I WONDER if we will get to start and finish the inter-county camogie championships this year with the rise in Covid-19 cases.

The recent shutdown in Laois, Offaly and Kildare gave us all food for thought.

A statement on the camogie website explained: “Outdoor GAA facilities can re-open; No games are permitted involving clubs from these counties;

“Training may continue, but should be on a non-contact basis and in groups of no more than 15 people;

“The control measures outlined in the GAA’s Return to Play document – and in particular the completion of Health Questionnaires before every training session – should continue to be adhered to.

“Indoor meetings should involve no more than six people, from no more than three households, and should adhere to the guidelines outlined previously by the GAA’s Health and Safety Committee, including the need for 2m social distancing Government travel restrictions should be adhered to.

“It is hugely unfortunate that circumstances beyond the control of the three Gaelic Games Associations in Laois, Offaly and Kildare has led to the cessation of games.”

Best seat in the house as residents on Castle road watch Glen Rovers and Sarsfields. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Best seat in the house as residents on Castle road watch Glen Rovers and Sarsfields. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

If this happens during October or November with a number of counties put on restrictions there won’t be room to fit in any postponed games, the schedule is tight as it is. The All-Ireland final is set for December 12 and a two-week shutdown will either cancel the competition altogether, depending on the number of counties involved, or we’ll see the championship move into 2021.

I think moving it into 2021 would be a disaster for a number of reasons. The players won’t have an ‘off-season’, it’ll be detrimental to Colleges camogie and have a negative effect on next year’s inter-county and possibly club leagues.

I’d imagine if we run into serious scheduling problems in the autumn/early winter the completion of the 2020 campaign could be in trouble. Hopefully that won’t happen.

Meanwhile, the association launched its new National Development Plan 2020-23 which will guide the work of the association over the next four years.

The key messages of the new plan are ‘Passion, People, Pride and Place’ which represent the foundation blocks of the association

Four strategic action areas frame their work for 2020-2023. Each aligns with Passion, People, Pride or Place and is underpinned by a series a of key goals:

Goal 1 – To provide lifelong participation within camogie.

Goal 2 – To increase the standard of camogie at club and county levels.

Goal 3 – To embrace the fixtures challenge to ensure adequate games programme for all.

Goal 4 – To promote the health, well-being and welfare of all camogie participants.

Goal 5 – To increase the availability of skilled and qualified coaches and referees and provide a supportive environment for volunteers.

Goal 6 – To ensure that volunteers and clubs are valued and have the skills and support to effectively and efficiently administer our game.

Goal 7 – To revitalise the camogie brand and identity.

Goal 8 – To develop commercially to power and drive our core business.

Goal 9 - To inspire more people to watch and engage with Camogie, locally, nationally and internationally.

Goal 10 – To work collaboratively with the GAA and LGFA as part of the Gaelic games family.

Goal 11 – To ensure appropriate playing facilities for camogie.

Goal 12 – To provide an innovative, dynamic and sustainable association that demonstrates best practice in governance and partnerships.

With the game growing all the time a few key numbers were highlighted. There are 578 registered clubs in Ireland. There were 323,400 TV viewers of the 2019 All Ireland final which was the largest audience for a live women’s sporting event in 2019.

A number of key actions and success indicators are highlighted to ensure the above goals are achieved which are ambitious and will require a lot of work, as there are just 22 staff employed by the association.

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