Linda Mellerick: Camogie plan for 2021 is completely unfair on Cork clubs

Current proposals mean the inter-county schedule will dominate the agenda after progress on that front last season
Linda Mellerick: Camogie plan for 2021 is completely unfair on Cork clubs

Cork's Ashling Thompson wins the ball from Clare's Laura McMahon at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A DRAFT inter-county camogie fixtures list been circulating for some time now. 

I understand that county boards were to review the list and resubmit their comments by January 11. At the time of writing there has been no finalised schedule presented but the draft showed no split-season between club and inter-county.

During the week new Galway camogie chairman Brian Griffin described the draft inter-county fixtures proposal as “disappointing”.

Noting the camogie association failed to gauge the mood of its membership, which he believes would be in favour of a split season, the new chairman hopes Croke Park will revisit their proposal.

“It is disappointing,” said Griffin, “You would expect they would have looked at it. They had plenty of time to examine it and there wouldn’t have been much resistance from county boards if they did.

“A split season would give us a better chance to run our club championships, if it was the same as last year, right through the summer months and it would give people at club level an even playing field. There are lots of players who don’t play for their county and for them to have a clear run, like they had last year, was fabulous.” 

In the camogie association’s 2021 proposal the inter-county competitions would more or less revert to pre-2020, with the national leagues running from March to May and the All-Ireland series from July to September.

This would leave just the remainder of May and June free for clubs in the first nine months of the year and county managements would still want access to their players while the Leaving Cert examinations in June would also impact on club fixtures. 

Clubs struggle in June due to exams and can you imagine the headaches for clubs trying to get their players during June with inter-county championship around the corner?

I reviewed the draft fixtures a couple of weeks ago and I was really frustrated with them. The clubs are completely overlooked.

Inagh Kilnamona's Fiona Lafferty and Courcey Rovers' Jacinta Crowley clash last winter in the Munster club semi-final. Picture: Eamon Ward
Inagh Kilnamona's Fiona Lafferty and Courcey Rovers' Jacinta Crowley clash last winter in the Munster club semi-final. Picture: Eamon Ward

First thing that stood out is that all ‘second team’ counties, who like Cork have a senior team and where their intermediate team is their second, are placed in the one group for both league and championship. 

The reason I suspect they have done this is that if restrictions are still in place come competition time they will cast aside these players just as they did in 2019 and eliminate them from the competitions. Having them all in one group allows them to easily do this without upsetting the others. I could be wrong but it’s a thought.

It’s so disappointing that after a wonderful club season in 2020, which was given widespread approval across the country from inter-county players and clubs that no effort was made in those draft fixtures to try and emulate it.

The league is starting later, March 6 for Division 2 and March 13 for Division 1 and running weekly until May 1 with a replay May 8.

The championship games start on July 3 and run weekly until August 1. The quarter-finals are mid-August with the semi-finals the 28-29 and the All-Ireland final September 11-12 with a replay if required the following week.

Should Cork reach the All-Ireland final, July, August and September are gone from a club championship point of view. The only chance Cork clubs would get would be if Cork went the direct route and avoided a quarter-final. 

There may be two weeks available there but that’s not good enough for clubs. They’re in limbo with the uncertainty that they may or may not have a game in August and if not then it’s the end of September. 

The intermediate inter-county championship dates are the same so most clubs will be affected. For Cork, there's little opportunity to get clubs up and running as most would have at least one player in either grade.


Why didn’t the association commence the championship a month earlier, in June? Few adult inter-county teams have Leaving Cert players and if they did well most of those have the minor championship to play in and that’s their grade. 

The camogie All-Ireland finals could also have been brought forward but they remain the same which boggles the mind. There could have been a quick window of four weeks there for clubs.

There are too just many games. There are eleven 11 counties and they are split into two groups, one of six and one of five. So that’s five and four games respectively before counties even emerge to the knockout stages. 

They should increase the number of groups so that counties get three games before exiting their group and leave it at that. It’s all about promoting counties and giving them as many games as possible. Clubs promote counties.

We can only hope that the finalised fixtures when they appear will be more favourable.

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