Cork camogie players show distance remains between athletes and those in charge

Rebels are setting an example for future generations of LGFA and camogie players to follow explains Ger McCarthy
Cork camogie players show distance remains between athletes and those in charge

Cork's Laura Hayes is tackled by Limerick's Muireann Creamer at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE modern-day player’s voice must grow louder to question demands made by governing bodies and associations.

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of sports personalities, amateur and professional, speaking out against their governing bodies if they felt they have been unfairly treated. The current All-Star Camogie tour issue is a prime example.

The Camogie Association’s decision to sanction a 2023 PwC Camogie All-Star tour to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, from May 19-25 drew an instant response from the affected Cork senior Camogie players.

Asking inter-county players (not just from Cork) to embark on a trans-Atlantic trip and return only a week before the start of the All-Ireland Camogie championship is a head-scratching decision.

Ashling Thompson likes to do her talking out on the pitch. So whenever the All-Ireland winner and All-Star midfielder comments about an off-field situation, Thompson’s pedigree and experience mean her words carry extra weight.

“How could you expect seven players to turn their back on their teammates at probably the most important time of the year leading up to championship. We wouldn't have All-Stars only for our teammates,” Thompson told the Irish Examiner.

“We are looking to be the one association. That's the goal. We are constantly looking for equality. How can you look for equality when it doesn't come from the top down? How can you possibly look for equality when women don't support women?” 

Katrina Mackey and Laura Hayes also voiced their frustrations as did other Cork Camogie players via their personal social media accounts. In the interim, the GPA contacted the Camogie Association to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the trip.

Thompson, her Cork teammates and manager Matthew Twomey had little choice but to come out and voice their displeasure. What else could they do at a decision that will wreak havoc with the county’s All-Ireland Championship preparations?

In the past, there was a perception that players should refrain from expressing opinions against governing bodies.


The Cork GAA football strike of 2007-08 and hurling strike of 2008-09 showed what can happen when a complete breakdown of trust between players and a county board occurs.

So whether they like it or not, Cork Camogie and LGFA inter-county players in 2023 are also role models and public ambassadors for their chosen sports.

Nowadays, there is pressure, not alone to perform to the best of your ability out on the pitch but also to defend your fellow players' rights.

That’s why it is imperative the likes of Ashling Thompson, and other high-profile figures continue to speak out against perceived inequalities. At the very least, those voices spark change and draw attention to important issues.

Cork’s current Camogie and LGFA players have a unique platform compared to previous generations. Through social media, the likes of Thompson, Mackey, Hayes and others have multiple avenues in which to express their views to a wider audience. Social media gives players the power to amplify their message and make an impact like never before.

Cork’s players, albeit amateurs, also have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that the sport they are dedicating their lives to remains as equitable as possible.

If they see injustice or discrimination within their sport, it is their responsibility to speak out and advocate for change. By doing so, they are setting an example for future generations of LGFA and Camogie players to follow.

It is not just amateur players in this country that are raising their voices and having their opinions heard.

Welsh rugby averted a crisis following contract wrangling about a new six-year financial agreement between the WRU governing body and players representing four Welsh regional teams. The unknown status of Welsh players' contracts meant uncertain futures and so a strike appeared likely.

Concessions were made to the Welsh players but only at the 11th hour following a series of talks.

The Welsh players were on the brink of striking before facing England last weekend. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
The Welsh players were on the brink of striking before facing England last weekend. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Last weekend’s Wales and England Six Nations encounter was in doubt but went ahead. Yet the scars left behind between the WRU and their country’s players will take a long time to heal.

Similarly, the concern for Camogie and LGFA players is that recent decisions like the recent All-Star one are only going to increase amid a crowded split-season inter-county calendar.

I’ve no doubt that each of the nominated Camogie All-Stars (from the 2021 and 2022 seasons) were looking forward to the trip of a lifetime. They would rather be fielding questions about Canada rather than how they could possibly prepare for an All-Ireland championship seven days after stepping off a long-haul flight.

Irrespective of if or when the All-Star Camogie tour goes ahead, the last fortnight has been a timely reminder of the delicate relationship that exists between players and governing bodies.

Let’s hope future generations have someone like Ashling Thompson to speak up when necessary.

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