Linda Mellerick: Camogie and ladies football must start putting players first

Linda Mellerick: Camogie and ladies football must start putting players first

Galway’s Sarah Dervan will hope to retain the O’Duffy Cup. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

I FIND what happened in the ladies’ football All-Ireland semi-final last weekend appalling.

It was just a catastrophe of events that led up to the debacle but for me the most shuddering part of it all was the statement from LGFA president Marie Hickey.

She showed her lack of empathy and respect for players when she stated that Galway could have taken to the pitch sooner ‘had they not spent so much time in the dressing room’.

I couldn’t believe she came out with that statement. What do they say about leading from the top down?

Marie Hickey said that their ‘priority was player welfare, to get the game played’. I’m lost as to the connection there.

Galway manager Tim Rabbitt said they were allowed 14 minutes in the dressing room – the Covid situation dictating that. It takes about 20 minutes for the entire squad to use the loo alone!

Add in changing, rubdowns, light stretching and so on and 30 minutes isn’t even enough. Cork were blessed that they went up the night before.

I’m surprised half the Galway team didn’t pull up with hamstring injuries in the first 10 minutes.

So, the discussion since has led to renewed calls for the three associations to amalgamate. This is going on for years. What’s holding it up? I fully believe that a reluctance to relinquish control and positions is the reason behind it.

For years both female organisations are saying that they don’t want to lose their identity. They won’t lose it.

Doireann O'Sullivan of Cork is tackled by Siobhán Fahy of Galway during semi-final. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Doireann O'Sullivan of Cork is tackled by Siobhán Fahy of Galway during semi-final. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

They can and will still have their own day in Croke Park for All-Ireland finals. It’ll enhance both football and camogie for players but it doesn’t seem to be about the players at all really does it.

We’ve a great day of female TV sport today with the FA Cup final between Cork City and Peamount United and then the All-Ireland camogie final between Galway and Kilkenny.

Who will take the O’Duffy cup in 2020?

Last year Kilkenny’s defence were torn asunder. It’s clear they’ve done a lot of work since. Their full-back line were excellent against Cork and if they can stop those runs from the middle, Galway will find it hard to get through.

Michelle Teehan, Clare Phelan and Davina Tobin are an excellent back three.

Galway will need to score from further out but they just loving running at defences. Sarah Healy went long with her puck outs in the semi-final reaching Galway’s half-forward line.

Against a half-back line of Collette Dormer, Meighan Farrell and Grace Walsh that might not be wise.

Sarah Dervan is Galway’s top-class full-back. If Denise Gaule is again named at full-forward she will play deep and if Dervan stays put Dormer is the type of player that will grab points from outside the D.

I thought Tipperary did well against Galway but they lacked experience after creating openings.

On a number of occasions, they ran into trouble instead of giving the pass. Ten minutes in, Tipp had a brilliant build-up and had in running Karen Kennedy offloaded there was a goal chance on.

Róisín Howard also had a golden opportunity on 20 minutes but the strike was rushed and weak. Another opportunity on 37 minutes saw a gilt-edged chance go astray. So, Galway were exposed.

They will need a much-improved performance in the final. Kilkenny won’t want to give away the start to Galway that they did to Cork.

They were at sixes and sevens for the first 10 minutes. They hadn’t had a game for a while and it showed. But they settled and it’s to their credit that they pulled back a six-point deficit.

Kilkenny can’t lose concentration for a minute as if Galway find a gap and overlap they will head straight for goal.

Niamh Kilkenny and Aoife Donoghue will run even if they gather the ball deep. That’s when Galway are at their most dangerous. If you get a chance of a penalty in an All-Ireland final you need to take it and I wonder if either side will.

Conversion rates are poor. Galway didn’t score for 20 minutes in the semi-final second half and that came from a free just as Kilkenny didn’t score from play for 30 minutes against Cork.

So much is going to come down to ferocious work-rate. You could say that Galway possibly have the most dangerous forwards. Kilkenny have the edge defensively.

I’m going to go for Kilkenny in this one.

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