Linda Mellerick: Camogie action on the pitch must be the focus from here

Association has been heavily criticised in recent weeks but thankfully matches are back from this weekend
Linda Mellerick: Camogie action on the pitch must be the focus from here

The Cork team head into battle against Kilkenny last season. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FINALLY, we can get down to business on the pitch now that the side-line activity has been sorted.

The association gave all clubs their opportunity to vote on Option 1 or Option 2 as to whether club or inter-county championships would take place first in 2021.

With Option 2, inter-county championship, having been chosen, former Limerick player and RTÉ analyst Aoife Sheehan felt on Morning Ireland sport during the week that the club player was the big loser in the decision.

“From a camogie association point of view, the result of the club poll was the best possible result for them PR wise. It avoided the inter-county players going on strike, so from that point of view I suppose it helps.

It’s unfortunate for the club player, I think really. The vote wasn’t a resounding yes by any means, 53% to 47%; 38% of clubs didn’t turn up to vote. How frustrating is that!

“I really feel for the club player in what should be an exciting week. May 10 was marked as return to play, to get back training and, at the time, there was probably a promise of summer camogie and summer championship.

“I think the format of last year’s championship worked really well. The club championship going before the inter-county championship from an advertisement point of view for camogie, it was excellent last year I felt.

“And this year if it went ahead in that guise, I think camogie would have been the sole billing.

“Ladies football and GAA would have gone as previous, and they would have had hopefully a little bit more space for coverage and promotion of the game.

“But now I suppose the club player it’s going to be possibly about 20 weeks before they have a championship game.

“I suppose the main fall guy in all this is the 2020 club championships. Hopefully talks might resume that championship might take place during the same timeframe as the inter-county league that’s going on so maybe June might be a good time to play it.

“A lot of people are feeling a little bit just downbeat from the whole thing.”

Option 2 was my preference and that was with a club hat on. This wasn’t the same as 2020 when clubs had 100% of their inter-county players for the duration.

I do believe that, for clubs to head straight into championship with minimal collective training behind them wasn’t the ideal preparation.

I feel they have much more game time going down this route. If the club championship started two weeks after the league finished, July 3, a club could be out of championship within three weeks if they lose two games.

Where was the good in that? At least now they’ll have time to train, play challenges and compete in a league, giving plenty of summer nights on the pitch.

They won’t have their inter-county players, though, if the county remains in the All-Ireland series. So even though the new term ‘split season’ is being bandied about it’s more of the same traditional route.

What is needed, and I hope it’s straightforward next year and we don’t have this messing around again, is that inter-county finishes earlier in the summer, clubs have their players back and get championship hurling on good pitches.

Another issue with option 1 was that it would have been a nightmare for dual players — both codes would have to choose between club and county if their seasons were on opposite ends of the calendar and that isn’t fair to them.

So, it looks like a strike was avoided.

Although I think if inter-county players did go on strike, had the vote gone against them, it would have been awful.

It was a democratic vote, and you can’t go on strike when the outcome isn’t how you wanted it to go. If that was the case, decisions/elections/referendums would never be made or passed.

What would them striking have said to the club player? Thankfully, we won’t find out if that would have played out.

I don’t think the 2020 club championships will finish now. There are still provincial finals to be played.

At least our association has welcomed back minor championship this year. What are the LGFA thinking leaving out such an important age group for the second year in a row?

Both associations are too often in the limelight for the wrong reason. I think the camogie association did the right thing by putting their original decision to a nationwide club vote and respecting the changed outcome.

All I want to do now is to head to Páirc Uí Chaoimh today and enjoy the first round of this year’s Division 1 league.

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