CLARE dual player Niamh O’Dea has described the fixing of a club camogie championship match seven days before the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship final as “an embarrassment”.
Clare will play Kildare on Sunday, September 25 in football final in Croke Park. Meanwhile, on this coming Sunday, Kilmaley are due to meet Clooney-Quin in a vital senior club championship fixture. Three of Kilmaley’s key players, O’Dea, Emma O’Driscoll and Ailish Considine are all starting players in the county football team.
“We are raging. It’s awful disappointing on our behalf that we are made to pick. We have given time all year to football and camogie but the board can’t agree on anything. They are putting us in a very difficult situation. The last thing you want on your mind going into an All-Ireland final is this hassle. If it was a men’s county team there wouldn’t be any trouble at all. It’s an absolute disgrace that women are not given the same respect. It’s an embarrassment to be honest. They can’t even call off a game a week before an All-Ireland final,” the Kilfenora girl and inter-county dual player told The Clare Champion this week.
The three players will not play with Kilmaley on Sunday and they have the support of their club in making this decision.
“Everyone’s dream is to play in Croke Park. We’re not going to risk picking up an injury. Our club is fully behind us. They can’t fathom why this is happening. The Kilmaley club players have trained all year for this and we can’t even go out with our full team. Some of the girls, all they play is club camogie and it’s very disheartening for them not to be given a chance to go out and perform with our best team,” the Clare ladies full-forward added.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Clare Camogie County Board pointed the finger at county ladies football boss Neil Moynihan and his management team for the controversy.
“Clare Camogie moved to try to facilitate the girls in the All-Ireland football final. The best solution would seem to have been to bring the game forward. Clooney-Quin offered Monday, September 12, which would have left the football team two weeks to focus on the All-Ireland final. Kilmaley were not in a position to accept this as girls would still not have been permitted to play by their football manager,” the statement revealed.
“This has been seen as reasonable by all parties except the football management. It is as a result then, that the option was to hold up the camogie championship for five weeks and for girls to play no game in three and a half weeks but then play three games in five days. This was rejected by delegates. Delegates said we must look after all players and while we want to see Clare win on September 25, we must be reasonable to all girls and make it feasible that they play both codes,” the statement added.
The Clare Champion contacted ladies football manager Neil Moynihan, who said he was focusing on preparing his team for their first All-Ireland final since 2009.
“I prefer to concentrate on managing and coaching teams,” the Galway man commented.
Separately, he expressed disappointment that the Clare GAA county board has fixed both senior championship club semi-finals for the same day as the ladies All-Ireland final.
“I’m disappointed that the men’s games are fixed for the same day. I thought they could accommodate the ladies by having a double header on the Saturday and free up a few of the men that might want to go up and support the women,” Moynihan commented.
Meanwhile, Kilmaley camogie player Helen McMahon also critised the decision to fix her club’s game for Sunday.
“It’s a hugely important game for both teams. Both have been training hard all year and for us to play without three of our starting team just wouldn’t be fair. The three of them are county dual players. Niamh O’Dea gave her time to camogie for six weeks in-a-row this year and didn’t go to any football training. She gave her entire commitment to camogie during the summer and then gave her commitment to Kilmaley. She has been making training one evening a week and now when we need support from the camogie board for the lady footballers, they won’t stand up and show any leadership,” McMahon fumed.
“They let the clubs battle it out. It’s scandalous to think this has happened one week before an All-Ireland final. It wouldn’t happen with the men in the same situation. There are lots of dates available in early October and we were even prepared to accommodate them mid-week. It’s not that we were inflexible. We were prepared to go to any date as long as it wasn’t before the All-Ireland. Dual players are not getting support from the county board. It’s a disgrace,” the irate Kilmaley player added.
Py Peter O’Connell