The Clare minor camogie squad have expressed their disappointment at the decision to cancel this year’s All-Ireland series.
The Camogie Association confirmed last week that they would not be running the championship this year, with provincial series being run instead. That is despite the competition having already begun before the Covid-19 measures were put in place, with Clare losing out to Kilkenny in the opening round.
The issue of the crossover between minor and senior squads was highlighted as an issue but that is something that those opposed to the move have disputed.
The Clare management team led by Dervilla Moloney have been instrumental in leading the charge for the decision to be reversed, while some members of the squad have made their feelings known with letters to The Clare Champion.
One of those came from the vice-captain of the team, Kilkishen’s Caoimhe Kelly
“As a committed county player I write this statement on behalf of my teammates of the Clare minor camogie team to highlight our frustrations of the negligence shown towards us, the other minor teams in the country and the championship that we have been working towards , some of us for almost three years.
With the recent announcements made by the Camogie Association we cannot help but feel a sense of disregard for the endless amount of time we have devoted to this championship. They have failed to recognise the significance of the minor division to young people. It is more often than not that this is the last time some girls are able to represent their counties, while for others it is the finish of our underage careers before we go on to either junior or senior county teams.
The last day we were training, we were unknown to the fact that it would be the last time we would come together as a team. Why do others get the opportunity to finish their seasons out yet we are deprived of even attempting to play a final match together? Over the last number of months we have spent hours in rain, sleet and hail preparing ourselves for the All Ireland yet now we are supposed to accept that it is simply over.
Having worked hard to win the Munster championship blitz in early February it is undeniably unjust to run a provincial championship as a resolution of the cancellation of the All Ireland series. This simply undoes the blood, sweat and tears put in by all players to obtain the title of Munster champions.
The outcry by almost all counties involved to this cancellation emphasises the lack of consideration by the Camogie Association for our opinions as both players and management. For a sport that encourages communication and cooperation throughout I find it to be quite disheartening that those in charge fail to portray these characteristics as we find ourselves in a battle to have our voices heard.
Minor camogie players are the future leaders and we are going to ensure that our feelings are accounted for as though those in charge may have made this decision as a way of avoiding a challenge, I’m afraid they have brought another challenge upon themselves. We have gained momentum in support. Change the decision as we are waiting to put the boots and helmets back on”.
Another member of the squad who expressed her disappointment at the decision is Amy Russell from Eire Óg.
“Throughout the years I’ve had the honour of representing my county at underage level, as well as the pleasure of watching my teammates develop as players up along. I’ve seen the hard work, dedication and commitment put in by players, coaches and backroom teams, not only this year but throughout our sporting careers. This year is the last year playing underage not only for me and my team mates but for young camogie players all over the country. Many of us aspire to play with adult intercounty teams making this a crucial year to perfect our play and gain confidence. This is impossible with little match practice at intercounty level.
For me personally, this is hugely disrespectful. The U-16 intercounty competition will go ahead, despite the fact that they have no matches played to date. The minor competition which began in early March is being pulled, despite most teams having played one or two matches to date. Due to Covid-19, all matches were postponed. Since then, players have put in tremendous work to keep up fitness levels in the hope of returning to games.
For those who will not continue to play at intercounty level, this will be their last chance to wear the county jersey. This will also be their last chance to play alongside the girls they have created a bond with over the years. We know that a huge number of girls end their sporting careers in their teenage years. Any efforts to discourage or undervalue the efforts of players is not just unfortunate but disrespectful.
The 20X20 campaign was about creating a cultural shift in our perception of girls and women in sport. It was not just about the visibility of women in sports but about increasing female participation in sport by 20%. The Camogie Association is the organisation that promotes and encourages participation in our national game. It would seem to me that after the success of the 20X20 campaign, the decision to pull the minor competition flies in the face of all that this campaign stood for. Playing for your county is a great honour but it comes at a cost. Girls and women make this commitment just like their male counterparts on county teams so that we can play. The justification for the decision made, is to prevent the overlap of minor girls playing with junior, intermediate or senior panels also. This doesn’t apply to all players, yet discriminates against all of us.
Surely in the interest of keeping young women playing sport, the decision will be reversed. My team mates and opponents should be awarded the respect we rightfully deserve, the right to play”.
It is hoped that some agreement can be reached on an alternative format to the championship which would allow it to be played. The option of running the All-Ireland series over one weekend similar to the Ashbourne Cup is being explored, while another suggestion is to have it as a knockout competition over a period of a few weeks.