Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association (WGPA) executive committee member, Deirdre Murphy, who has played adult camogie for Clare since 1997, has contrasted the way three possible Olympians are treated in their rugby and hockey camps, to their ladies football and camogie experiences.
Naomi Carroll is an international hockey player, while Susan Vaughan and Eimear Considine could be part of the Irish Rugby 7s squad at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“If you take Clare, in particular, you have Eimear Considine, Susan Vaughan and Naomi Carroll, who have a realistic chance to take part in the Olympics in rugby and hockey. They are experiencing what all Clare camogie players want to experience with regard to the level of professionalism, the level of care and training,” Murphy said.
She says Clare camogie players and footballers would love to train in that type of professional environment.
“Look at Máire McGrath, who is just as talented but her experience at inter-county camogie doesn’t compare to what her neighbour, Naomi, is getting playing international hockey. That should not be the case and unless there is a group that is vocal and organised across the codes and the country, things will stay the same,” Murphy feels.
It would be a mammoth achievement if all three girls were to make it to the Olympics, but Murphy says the trio would be a huge loss to local sports.
“You could have three people who got their sporting education in Gaelic games in Clare featuring in the Olympics, which would be fantastic, but they would be massive loss to Clare’s ambitions of trying to win an All-Ireland,” she added.
On a broader note, the UL GAA development officer said Clare inter-county players are role-models within their communities.
“They are valuable resources. They are very local, they are very generous with their time within their club setting and having them well catered for is a massive investment in local health and local sport. If the country could wake up to that a little bit, it would be a massive step. This WGPA set-up is for inter-county players at the moment but it will have a knock-on effect. Three or four girls that are on a county camogie team keep a whole community going because the rest of them play away and have a good experience with their club,” she feels.
Murphy insists the WGPA is realistic in its aims. “This is not some kind of an elitist grab-all group. The most of us won’t see what changes might be made,” she said of the seven-person executive committee.