Linda Mellerick: Camogie squads return for a period of transition

Players have departed the panel in recent seasons and it will take time to rebuild
Linda Mellerick: Camogie squads return for a period of transition

Inagh Kilnamona's Fiona Lafferty and Courcey Rover's Aishling Moloney, Jacinta Crowley and Ellen Maguire in action last season. Picture: Eamon Ward

THERE'S a buzz in the air as people’s expectations of a lockdown exit are increasing on an almost daily basis. 

The hospitalisations and positive tests are coming down with the number of vaccinations on a nice trajectory.

For inter-county players returned to training there’s a spring in their step. On Monday, our juveniles are back and that is so important. 

However, for those juveniles, they have a decision to make. The camogie association sent out the following notification last week.

"We are very conscious of managing the potential risks associated with returning to play and on the need to minimise engagements and contacts between groups at all levels.

"To this end, as a National Governing Body, we direct that players train and play with one team or squad only under current restriction levels. 

"In the 26 counties, for players who are selected as part of an inter-county squad, who are under 18 years, must declare for either:

"Their inter-county adult team – meaning that they would not be eligible to return to underage training with their club team under current restrictions or their juvenile club team, which would mean that they are no longer eligible to train/play with their county team under current restrictions, ie, players would declare and train with one group only.

"In Northern Ireland for players who are selected as part of an inter-county squad, of any age, must declare for either:

"Their inter-county adult team – meaning that they would not be eligible to return to underage training with their club team under current restrictions or their relevant club team only, which would mean that they are no longer eligible to train/ play with their county team under current restrictions. 

With Northern Ireland fully back club training this is the variant to the set up down south.

"This will help to ensure a safe return to sport, minimise interaction between players and enable our county teams to field as planned, particularly at the junior levels.

"We are aware that will be challenging for players and team management. Our priority remains the ongoing health and safety of all involved in our sport."

This doesn’t seem to affect mentors that cross over both club juvenile and intercounty and you would hope that once all clubs fully return to action that this rule will be removed. 

Although that’s not the case up north so it will depend on what restrictions are lifted over the coming weeks. We are hopeful of a return to widespread club training in May. 

But we’ll have to see what the Government permits next week and how the associations will follow suit.

The Cork intermediates and seniors took to the fields last Monday and Tuesday respectively and I’ll bet that was a joy.  36 players make up the intermediate squad which will be reduced to 30 and 26 make up the senior panel. 

That’s a small enough panel for a senior side. There’s been a lot of rotation in the squad this past three years and it’s going to take time to build again. 

Other players were approached to join the squad but passed up for one reason or another. Cork’s league outings will no doubt give every player a run. 

With only two group games they’ll want to make the quarter-finals at the very least to ensure they get as many competitive games as possible. There are three groups of three. 

A draw will take place between the top counties to emerge from each group. First two drawn will advance to the semi-final. The third county will enter a quarter-final with the three group runners-up. 

Cork have Tipperary and Waterford. Not so easy anymore. Tipperary have improved greatly, and it’ll depend on who lines out for them this season as to how strong they’ll be. 

If dual player Aishling Moloney makes herself available, she’ll be a huge addition. Away to Waterford will be a battle. However, you would still expect Cork to have it over them. 

Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The Association kept their eight subs rule for the national league and Paudie Murray will be very pleased with that as he is sure to try out several formations. 

We still don’t have word on when inter-county and club championships will commence. That’s frustrating at this stage.

The rumours alternate from club first and inter-county second to vice versa. 

I can appreciate how difficult it would be for inter-county managers to try and prepare a team for the championship if like last year club comes first and they are forbidden to interfere with club activity and only get a few weeks to prepare as a group for the All-Ireland series. 

On the flip side, clubs have been pushed to the back of the line so much over the past decade that they are starting to make themselves heard. We can only wait and see.

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