IN ALL FAIRNESS - Camogie and Ladies Football need to work together





When I first learned of the dilemma facing Cahir camogie and ladies football clubs last week, my heart sank wondering how we are still having this kind of issue.

For those you not aware, Cahir were due to play a Junior ‘A’ camogie county final against Knockavilla last Saturday and 26 hours later were fixed to play a senior ladies football final against Aherlow, with fourteen players cutting across both panels.

Despite over a week of behind the scenes negotiations, there was no change to the original fixtures, with many of the Cahir players then taking to local radio and social media to highlight their plight, and they had every right to as camogie and ladies football organisers do not seem to be learning from their problems of the past.

Now, Tipperary Camogie Board and Tipperary Ladies Football Board are quite within the right to run their competitions as they see fit as they are separate organisations, plus when their schedules were re-done earlier this summer, both the Junior ‘A’ Camogie and Senior Ladies Football finals were pencilled in for 26-27 September.

Both boards allowed Cahir to approach Knockavilla and Aherlow to see if one of the finals could be rescheduled but neither were able to accede to the request, leaving the Cahir clubs in a bind and they ultimately decided not to field in the camogie final. However, one of the organising boards should have stepped in and made a decision for them and that’s where the majority of the blame falls on the Tipperary Camogie Board.

There was little scope for the senior football final to be moved as the champions were required to be ready to play in a Munster Championship game next weekend, whereas there is no provincial competition for the winners of the county Junior ‘A’ championship.

Tipperary Camogie would have lost no face if they had pushed back the junior final, or indeed brought it forward a week to 19-20 September and played it on the same weekend as the senior and intermediate finals. In fact they would have come out of the whole thing with a lot more credit. Instead they were left with a final that went unplayed with Knockavilla crowned champions off the field which is no way to win a championship. It would appear unlikely the final will be refixed as we head into an inter-county window with many Cahir and Knockavilla players involved in Tipperary teams in both codes.

This isn’t the first time this has happened as in 2019, Thurles Sarsfields where they were forced to play in a Junior ‘A’ Camogie and Intermediate Football final on the same day, again with many players cutting across both panels.

Now one clash of this kind is careless, for it to happen again less than twelve months later is shameful and it is up to Tipperary Camogie and Tipperary Ladies Football to sit down and come up with a solution to ensure it doesn’t happen again, as it has the scope to with the likes of Cahir, Thurles Sarsfields and Templemore now strong in both camogie and ladies football while Sivermines and Newport-Ballinahinch/Rockvale Rovers having the scope to do so in the future in North Tipperary.

In February 2018 at national level, the Camogie Association and Ladies Gaelic Football Association nationally signed Memorandums of Understanding with the GAA, whereby the three organisations would establish stronger links with a view to all three coming under the one organisation umbrella in the future.

The memorandums reflected: “the shared vision of the three organisations for a new overall organisational model within which the games, ideals and aspiration of all three Associations are equally developed and promoted. They recognise areas of common interest.”

Now the last line of that statement is key here as camogie and ladies football are “areas of common interest” but there is still an element within both codes of minding their own patch to the extreme, even at the expense of the players which are the most important people.

Ladies Football aren’t immune for criticism either as last year the All Ireland intermediate football semi-finals were scheduled for the same day as the senior camogie semi-finals which put dual star Orla O’Dwyer in bind but football manager Shane Ronayne took the decision out of her hands, allowing her to focus on the camogie game, and thankfully the ladies footballers didn’t suffer as a result.

The shared vision of camogie and ladies’ football can’t just become words, it needs to be turned into action. If things won’t change nationally at the right pace, Tipperary Camogie and Tipperary Ladies Football Boards should do it themselves and design a common plan going forward that has designated camogie and ladies football weekends, allowing the scope for flexibility.

They could do worse than ask Tipperary GAA Board’s Tom Maher for guidance on how they put a workable schedule together. This year there was designated weekends for hurling and football. The county senior hurling and football finals were both originally pencilled in for 19-20 September, but when Loughmore/Castleiney qualified for both, a proviso was built-in that the football final was to be deferred by a week. If Loughmore/Castleiney weren’t expected to play two county finals on the same weekend by the GAA, why should Cahir have been expected to do the same in camogie and ladies’ football?

It’s time for Tipperary Camogie and Tipperary Ladies Football to work together and to sort it out once and for all.

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