Linda Mellerick: Split season ideal for players, even if it's over too early

'The split season is wonderful for players to plan their lives, despite some quarters unhappy that the inter-county season is over so early.'
Linda Mellerick: Split season ideal for players, even if it's over too early

Cork's Emma Flannagan wins the ball from Clare's Muireann Scanlon at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

WITH the GAA split season mirrored by the camogie association the All-Ireland finals are down for the weekend of August 6, giving an extra four to five weeks to counties for their club championships.

With this in mind, the Cork board has moved from the traditional ‘back-door’ scenario where the most games some clubs had was two, to a group round-robin basis giving each of the 20 teams at least four games.

Four groups of five have been drawn. It’s a great idea.

Games will start in mid-August. Even if Cork are knocked out of the All-Ireland series at the semi-final stage the start date doesn’t need to change.

There is plenty of time in the calendar and people can now book holidays. Gone (hopefully) are the times when you couldn’t plan even a weekend away.

The split season is wonderful for players, despite some quarters unhappy that the inter-county season is over so early. Unquestionably group A is the toughest group containing Inniscarra, Courcey Rovers, Douglas, Glen Rovers and Killeagh.

County champions Seandún are in the ‘divisional’ group with Imokilly, Carrigdhoun, Carbery and Avondhu.

Will we for once see all five divisions take to the field and complete their fixtures? With so many dual players it’s getting harder for divisional sides to compete.

UNHEALTHY

They’re the third priority for such players. You can’t not let divisions in but at the same time giving walkovers is unhealthy for the competition.

It’s not fair on clubs that want and need the game. Camogie and ladies’ football will still be operating under the same calendar during the new season structure.

There could be a solution-maybe an ‘every other week’ scenario between the sports. Clubs may still not release their players from training but at least they’re available for fixtures.

A further indication of the rise of women’s sport is that PwC Ireland, along with the Camogie Association, announced during the week that they will become the title sponsor of the Camogie All-Stars for three years to 2024.

In addition, along with the GAA and the GPA, PwC announced their renewal of PwC GPA Women’s Player of the Month for a further three years.

The women’s USA soccer team finally got their just reward for equal pay after years of taking on the establishment and fighting for their future.

Many of the players sacrificed themselves while knowing they wouldn’t benefit from their efforts, but future players would, and one has to applaud them in every way for what they have achieved.

Not only did they achieve a deal to pay the US men’s national team and the US women’s national team equally, which will run through to 2028 and include the “equalisation” of World Cup prize money, the governing body and the women’s team agreed a settlement to resolve the long-standing pay dispute, with the federation agreeing to give the women’s team $22 million in back pay.

This really is a massive statement for sports women across the globe.

It follows on from the brilliant work Billie Jean King did for decades for equal pay in tennis, her quote famous, 'Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top too.'

And make no mistake but these high-profile wins eventually filter down to a more localised level.

The AWFL have just announced a 90% increase in salaries for their players. Another massive sign of the shift in women’s sport.

Katie Taylor celebrates her victory in New York recently. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr
Katie Taylor celebrates her victory in New York recently. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

The publicity that women’s sport is now generating is making it stand on its own two feet. It really is a fantastic time to be a young girl growing up in Irish sport.

There is still a long way to go but Katie Taylor headlining Madison Square Garden, Leona Maguire, Rachel Blackmore, Kellie Harrington, Cora Staunton and Bríd Stack, girls you’d meet in your local supermarket are all achieving more than they possibly ever imagined as children, all on our TV screens, all receiving huge plaudits, all showing that anything is achievable.

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