Linda Mellerick: Why can't camogie and ladies football work together?

Linda Mellerick: Why can't camogie and ladies football work together?
Cork dual ace Hannah looney is fouled by Davina Tobin of Kilkenny to win a penalty in the All-Ireland in 2016. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THERE was a lot of negativity at the LGFA’s congress in relation to the defeat of the Dublin motion last weekend.

It purported that the LGFA ‘recognise 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 Ladies Gaelic Football and Camogie’.

I’m not at all surprised it was defeated. I believe if a similar motion was put before Camogie’s congress it too would have been shot down.

The reason? Because those voting at Congress aren’t concerned about the general individual. What they care about is their own sport and to narrow it down further, their own club.

Very few make decisions for the good of the inter-county game or the bigger picture. That’s why so many motions around the Camogie rules have been defeated over the years.

LGFA President elect Michael Naughton said that the motion was defeated because of the wording. I quote, “That motion came down to one word, that word being ‘facilitate’.

“Basically, if we allowed that motion to go through, with that word in it, it could hold up all our competitions, right down to club and underage level.

“When we talk about facilitating dual players, we could be talking about basketball or any number of sports that our players also play, not strictly camogie.”

I’m not so sure that’s the case. The motion did specify ladies football and camogie. He said that both associations will continue to work together to ensure that those who play both codes are not asked to choose between either or line out twice in the one day.

One such alleviating step taken last year was to play the senior camogie and All-Ireland ladies football semi-finals on separate weekends.

Libby Coppinger missed the footballer’s defeat away to Donegal last weekend as it clashed with Cork’s victory over Kilkenny.

And now Cork’s re-scheduled league game with Clare on March 22 threw another spanner in the works with the clash of Cork’s footballers in Galway, meaning the camogie team would line out without Libby and Hannah Looney. Why was that fixture just thrown out there stirring negative publicity and leaving it to Cork and Clare to sort out between them?

Why wasn’t the game just fixed for Saturday? If the Saturday clashes with other sports for Cork or Clare that their players may be involved with, then so be it.

Then they make a choice. With group formats now the norm in GAA it’s difficult enough to avoid clashes with ladies football and camogie without having to work around other sports as well. If a player chooses to play another sport outside of GAA then of course individual choices will have to be made.

But the ladies GAA codes, albeit under separate organisations, should work together. And hopefully once the current crisis is over, they will.

Meanwhile Cork are in a strong league position, guaranteed to reach the final if they defeat Offaly tomorrow in Banagher, which I’m sure they will. Their last final appearance was 2017.

Cork blitzed Kilkenny last weekend. I appreciate that Kilkenny were down a significant number of top calibre players such as the Farrells, Michelle Quilty, Ann Dalton, and Davina Tobin but such was the gap you’d wonder if Kilkenny can do enough over the coming months to get to an All-Ireland final again.

They currently lie second from the bottom in group 1 with a game with Waterford today. Based on current form Waterford, with the Gailltír girls back, could just as easily take the points here.

That’s as far down the table as Kilkenny have been for years. They won their fourth title on the trot in 2019. I don’t believe they have the underage coming through either like they had midway through the last decade.

Chloe Sigerson, Cork, looking to break past Kilkenny players Aofie Doyle, Danielle Morrissey and Laura Norris last weekend. Picture: Dan Linehan
Chloe Sigerson, Cork, looking to break past Kilkenny players Aofie Doyle, Danielle Morrissey and Laura Norris last weekend. Picture: Dan Linehan

Cork meanwhile have won two back-to-back minor titles and I think the pendulum has switched a little. Kilkenny continue to hold a strong record in senior schools camogie though with Loretto having won their seventh title since 2010. With inter-county players now figuring relatively young at senior level this must stand to the Cats, but they seem to have a bit of work to do.

Despite Cork also being without eight of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final side they are playing impressively and blending in their youth successfully at this stage of the league.

Tipperary have reached the division 1 final for the first time in 11 years after shocking champions Galway in a tight affair at Duggan Park. The Premier women failed to score in the second half, which is a poor sign at senior intercounty, but conditions were poor, and they produced some heroic defending to hold out by 1-8 to 0-10. Captain Cáit Devane was again excellent for Tipp, scoring six points in the opening half.

Róisín Howard goaled early and then dropped deep to help protect the 1-8 to 0-5 interval advantage into the wind.

She dispossessed Rebecca Hennelly on the edge of her own square, deep into the eight minutes of injury time to secure the win for Tipp.

Cathal Murray will be disappointed but the McGrath sisters are now back with Galway after their All-Ireland club victory with Sarsfields and things will settle again as their thoughts now move to defending their All Ireland crown.

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