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Skorts are meant to make camogie players more ladylike. Who asked for that?

Camogie is resilience, it is team work and it is just fun. It’s fake tan, bruised legs and hair bands. And it’s also women still being told what they can and can’t wear

Can shorts replace skorts in camogie’s playing uniform? Alternatively, could shorts be added alongside skorts to the list of approved playing gear?

These were the motions proposed by Tipperary, Meath and Britain respectively at this year’s Camogie Association Congress. Unfortunately, it became a missed opportunity to modernise the player’s gear: both motions were rejected. Replacing skorts was defeated by a 64 to 36 margin, while adding shorts had slightly more approval, but ultimately 55 per cent voted no.

Speaking on Tipp Mid West Radio, Tipperary Camogie PRO Geraldine Kinane said: “Disappointed would be the main word, ya know? A bit surprised by the margin of defeat. We knew that some counties were in favour of keeping the status quo but we did think that with the 120th anniversary of the Camogie Association, we’ve come a long way from back in 1904, where they had to wear long skirts, and we thought now is the time to join the 21st century and modernise the game.”

The amount of “no” votes is significant, which makes the results of a survey undertaken by Thomas MacCurtain’s GAA club in London all the more important.


In early 2023, the team launched their “Shorts Not Skorts” campaign. Shorts were introduced to their official kit and in a survey of 250 players a staggering 82 per cent said they preferred shorts.

The reality is that skorts can be restrictive, that they’re less comfortable than shorts and bending down to take frees can feel exposing. This traditional sign of being a “lady” can feel like it’s getting in the way of moving efficiently, an imperative in elite sport.

There’s also the issue that faces virtually all sports: the drop-off rate when girls hit puberty. Numerous studies show that body image, body confidence and physical discomfort impact teenagers’ desire to stay playing sports. Requiring a skort for matches can be a deterrent in a time of hormonal and emotional turbulence and physical change.

The motions’ rejections mean that players will do as they have always done: train in their shorts; wear their skort on match days; save themselves the risk of being upbraided for dissent and then yellow-carded; speak up about the issue during interviews, and hope for the best at the next congress in 2027 (also the year integration between the LGFA, Camogie Association and GAA is due to take place).

The big question is: Why? Who is this for? If the players don’t want this, who is voting to keep it?

Delegates, not players, vote at Congress. This year, 150 representatives came from counties, provincial councils and delegates from international clubs. Certainly, some delegates listened to their players and voted in line with their desires, but could all 150 say that?

Reasons don’t have to be provided for a delegate’s vote and they don’t have a mandate from their club, but the outcome prompts questions: what was the reason for the majority refusal? Is it really about tradition? Is it to keep camogie distinct from football? A personal preference? Why aren’t they listening to the players? Would the result have been different had players voted?

Prominent players including Dublin’s Aisling Maher and Tipperary’s Mary Ryan expressed their disappointment and frustration on X following the announcement.

There seems to be a disparity between those who vote and those who play, seeing it as two different games. For some of the former, who may find it hard to see women as elite athletes, it must be kept ladylike in the traditional sense. Camogie is seen as the “girls’ version of hurling” and not a sport/spectacle in its own right. Shorts are for the men and the Gaelic footballers (and rugby players, soccer players, runners, boxers…)

Had the motions passed, it would have been both extraordinary and not.

As far as the players are concerned, camogie involves training at an elite level as an amateur. It’s a physical, active battle, demanding blood sweat and tears. It is resilience, it is team work and it is fun. It’s fake tan, bruised legs and hair bands.

Camogie is also the issue of dual fixtures for Gaelic footballers and camogie players, lack of expenses for travelling players, and regrettably, women being told what they can and can’t wear, by people no longer playing (if they ever did).

And as is the way with woman’s sports, the scandal takes the spotlight away from the sport. Tipperary Camogie take on Galway in the Very Camogie 1A League final in Croke Park this Sunday, but more articles (this one included), podcasts and radio interviews will discuss their rejected motion than the match. Had the motions passed, it would have been both extraordinary and not.

For as long as camogie has existed, there has been discussion over what players should wear. The floor-length skirts and long-sleeved blouses they started out with in the 1900s were modest and ladylike. This was not an accident, but a priority. While it has evolved over the decades to the skort, the principle remains: image over practicality, ideal over reality, telling over listening.

Louise Lawless is a freelance journalist