Talk of the Camogie and Ladies Football associations working closer with the GAA seem to be nothing but lip service on days like today. When you hear of families and communities literally being split in two as St Martin’s camogie and hurling team prepare for their respective teams huge games this Sunday, where is there any evidence of the associations co-operating?
After ending Oulart The Ballagh’s dominance in Wexford recently, St Martin’s senior hurlers make the trip to Parnell Park in Dublin to take on All-Ireland champions Cuala in the Leinster semi-final at 2pm. Meanwhile, at 2.30pm in Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow, the senior camogie team, who also ended Oulart’s reign as county camogie champions, will take on Thomastown of Kilkenny in the Leinster final. So two teams from the same club are playing at the same time but in completely different venues. Where is the sense in that?
I understand the camogie fixture is a double header with the intermediate club final between Myshall and Johnstownbridge and Carlow is an ideal venue to host all 4 clubs. I also understand that the GAA has their own rules and regulations and on this occasion Cuala have home county venue and the date was fixed in advance for Sunday. But couldn’t both organizations have some kind of “common sense” rule that fixtures, venues and throw-in times can be changed to prevent such ludicrous clashes that aren’t fair on anyone in St Martin’s GAA and camogie club?
GAA chairman Mick Morrissey will be in Dublin while his daughter plays in a Leinster final in Carlow. Marie O’Connor is the manager of the camogie team and I’m sure she would love her twin brother to be in Carlow to support her and the team but Tomas is the manager of the hurling team. Worse again, her daughters will line out for the camogie team while her son will line out for the hurlers. There are lots of other examples of brothers on the hurling team and sisters on the camogie team being split never mind cousins and friends. According to a report on the RTE GAA website, St Martin’s GAA club decided not to approach the camogie association for a change, electing instead to concentrate on the job in hand and hope both teams will win and have an opportunity to support each other again.
While both set of panels will lose out on support it’s the camogie team I feel most sorry for. Like any parish, I’m sure the GAA club enjoy a bigger following than the camogie club, and from my own experience that all changes and improves when you have success. Often you need a few victories to get people hooked. I’m sure a large crowd witnessed St Martin’s win their first senior camogie county final and buoyed by their achievements would have looked forward to supporting them in their bid to defeat the current Leinster champions. Instead the camogie team make the trip to Carlow with less than half of the support that they should have, thanks to the fixture clash.
What is also disappointing is the lack of noticeable outrage. Both clubs seem to have accepted the situation and chosen to focus solely on the tasks in hand. This is understandable as players don’t need distraction. The worrying aspect is that people are so used to fixture clashes between men and women and the camogie and ladies football. The public will complain and give out, families and players will be put in awkward positions, while the powers that be will stay quiet and wait till it all blows over. To conclude in the words of Mark Twain, it seems in the GAA, “I’ve found that common sense ain’t so common”