CORK camogie boss Paudie Murray has hit out at the government’s decision not to permit GAA inter-county teams to resume training until at least early April.
Originally, it had been hoped that teams could come together in early March to get in four weeks of training in preparation for the start of the various National League competitions.
But following discussions with the government, the GAA confirmed to its various units that inter-county football and hurling has lost 'elite' status under the Covid-19 restrictions and therefore the competitions were no longer exempted at Level 5.
And the association’s Covid-19 advisory group now believes that inter-county training is unlikely to resume until after Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 4, at the earliest.
“To say the least, I’m puzzled by the stance that has been taken by the government in relation to the return to training by GAA, camogie and ladies football teams," said Murray.
“During the months of October, November and December all GAA teams behaved in a very responsible manner and this resulted in a very safe environment being created by the players during training and during matches.
“And I feel that a similar situation would have applied if teams had been allowed to return training in early March.
“But now it will probably be at least early May before the league can start,” added Murray, who is heading into a remarkable 10th season at the helm of the Cork team.
In preparation for this year’s campaign, he has drafted four new players into his panel, while six members on the fringes of last year’s squad have been omitted.
Defender Pamela Mackey, from the Douglas club, who played with Cork for 12 years, winning four All-Ireland medals, has taken a year out. But her twin sister, midfielder Katrina, is available.
“The four additions to our panel are Isabelle Sheehan, of Éire Óg, who plays at midfield or wing-forward, Inniscarra’s Linda Keane, who is a defender, Cliona Dooley, Ballinora, who generally plays in the full-back line, and St Finbarr’s Ashling Egan, who is also a back.
“Isabelle, Linda and Cliona all have experience of playing minor for Cork in recent years, and Ashling had a very good club campaign for the Barrs last year.
“Incidentally, Isabelle is a niece of Lynn Dunlea, who played with the Cork camogie team in 1993, ’94 and ‘’95, and of Stephanie Dunlea, who played with the county from 1995 to 2003.”