GPA urges Camogie Association to alter fixture plan or 84% of players won't play in the league

Plan to play club matches in between the league and inter-county championship was met with a negative response, forcing the Association to row back
GPA urges Camogie Association to alter fixture plan or 84% of players won't play in the league

The Camogie Association has run into conflict with the GPA over proposals for the new season. Picture: INPHO/Tom O'Hanlon

THE Gaelic Players Association have stated the majority of their players will refuse to take part in the league unless the Camogie Association rows back on plans for the new season.

A GPA statement revealed 84% of players would refuse to play in the league, if the proposed format whereby club championships will be run off mid-summer before a switch back to inter-county in the winter goes ahead.

This is in contrast to the GAA and LGFA, who will conclude their inter-county programmes before clubs take centre-stage from September. In that regard, the Camogie Association's proposal is effectively unworkable, as it doesn't facilitate dual players.

After a backlash on Friday, camogie's governing body explained they'd look at the situation across the week and decide on the best course of action for club and inter-county players.

"To gain clarity on the path the entire association wants to take during this Covid-19 time, we have decided to poll our members over the next seven days," it read. "This poll will be carried out through all Camogie clubs, and the result will guide our fixture calendar. Details of this process will follow."

In response, the GPA said: "We are willing to work with them towards finding a satisfactory resolution to allow all players, both club and county, get back on to pitches across the country without any further controversy.

"Players have overwhelmingly voted (84% of 752 players who responded in last 24 hours) that they will not participate in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues should the current season structure be retained. The GPA will represent this view from our members to the Camogie Association.

"We had recently informed (on April 2) the Camogie Association that our members wanted to see a split-season introduced. The key factors that influenced the split-season choice were:

Club and County: Inter-county players are also club players. They want to be able to give 100% commitment to either their club team or their county team during the respective windows.

Club Leagues: Players believe that club leagues should go ahead while the inter-county season is being played to ensure their club team-mates are able to participate in meaningful games across the summer.

Dual Players: Players should not be put in a position of having to choose inter-county football over club camogie or vice versa, or inter-county camogie over club football or vice versa.

Cork's Fiona Keating was on the camogie and ladies football senior squads in 2020. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork's Fiona Keating was on the camogie and ladies football senior squads in 2020. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Player Welfare: There is an increased risk of injury when players are being exposed to additional demands where there is an overlap between club and county activity.

"A split-season facilitates a period of no activity that allows for rest and recuperation and benefits substantially the welfare of our members.

"We want to see a solution that is in the best interest of all players which we believe the split-season provides."

On Saturday they were criticised online by high-profile figures including former Cork All-Ireland winning captain Anna Geary and current players Ashling Thompson and Laura Treacy.

When the GPA was polled 82% of inter-county players expressing a preference for the opposite approach to the new plan.

The ladies football organising body opted to go with the split season whereby league and championship at inter-county are concluded before clubs take centre-stage.

Quite how the differing approaches by ladies football and camogie would work for dual players was not explained. And the move came despite the recent commitment to avoid fixture clashes and help facilitate the elite who are good enough to pull on the county colours in both codes.

A statement from the Association on Saturday argued: "Having lost four months from the normal playing calendar due to Covid restrictions in both jurisdictions, the association wanted to provide as much camogie to as many girls as possible in the remaining eight months of the year.

"This was the same approach taken in 2020 – participation is a priority for the Camogie Association.

"A draft schedule was circulated to units in December and feedback sought. This feedback suggested two diametrically opposed preferences – the first to run all adult inter-county activity in succession and the second option was to run county-club-county."

"And given the fact that most club activity had ceased in August/September 2020, to consider running the inter-county championship directly after the Littlewoods National Leagues would mean that club players would have missed out on almost a full year of camogie.

"It is important to provide meaningful competition to as many players as possible.

Cork defender Laura Treacy. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Cork defender Laura Treacy. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"In making the decision there were always going to be people unhappy as there are two distinct and opposing views.

"This approach, as outlined by Uachtaran Hilda Breslin at a county chair meeting on Friday evening, will require everyone in camogie to work together - clubs and counties - to make it work."

The Camogie Association went into greater detail on their website.

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