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Ciarán Murphy: I can’t believe the Camogie Association would stand over the withdrawal of Kildare

Kildare might be the most important growth market out there for both hurling and camogie

This month I read The Grass Ceiling, by the acclaimed novelist and All-Ireland senior camogie medal winner Eimear Ryan, a book which will very soon be acknowledged as a classic of Irish sportswriting. And like all the best writing it got me thinking, among other things, about my relationship with women’s sport, and women’s GAA in particular.

And there is a certain amount of guilt implicit in writing about the Kildare camogie team’s absence from this year’s Intermediate All-Ireland championship. In such scenarios, we are brought face to face with the fact that we only actually pay attention to these teams when they, and we, have decided that the treatment they’re currently getting is sufficiently worse than the bare minimum.

Last week the Kildare camogie team wrote an open letter to the county’s clubs, subsequently released by the Gaelic Players Association, where they outlined how they’d been told via WhatsApp that the county board was withdrawing them from the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

Also, “a charter, agreed between the players, the executive and the management team, was not being adhered to. For example, we didn’t even have access to showers and changing rooms after training.”


This is how bare the bare minimum is. If the Kildare county board could have arranged a dressing-room and some showers, the Kildare camogie team probably wouldn’t have felt confident enough in their own anger at being undervalued to go public.

Because going public via the GPA is usually a last resort. In these situations, the problem will get sorted, because it’s too embarrassing not to sort it. And then this statement was released on Wednesday, by the Camogie Association.

“The Kildare camogie executive representatives, members of the Kildare panel, the Camogie Association and GPA convened a meeting last night (Tuesday). It was agreed that Kildare will not participate in the 2023 Intermediate All-Ireland camogie championship. This very difficult decision was reached by the Kildare executive and players after extensive discussion.

“All parties committed to undertake an independent review of all matters pertaining to the preparation and participation of intercounty camogie teams representing Kildare. This independent review will be overseen by Ard Chomhairle of the Camogie Association, and will involve the county board, clubs, players and other relevant parties.”

I can’t believe that the Camogie Association would stand over the voluntary withdrawal of a county team from their secondary competition, a competition which is divided roughly in half between counties like Kildare, whose first team competes, and the second teams of the stronger counties, like Cork, Galway and Kilkenny.

The Camogie Association desperately needs Kildare. They were in an All-Ireland Intermediate final in 2015. Johnstownbridge won the All-Ireland intermediate club championship final in 2018. Kildare is a key target for both hurling and camogie – in fact, given its demographics, it might be the most important growth market out there, for both iterations of the sport.

The idea that the Camogie Association will oversee the review is also of interest, given that the current president is Athy’s Hilda Breslin, who was previously secretary of the Kildare camogie county board.

They have a high-profile manager in Joe Quaid, a man who has played in All-Ireland finals, and has managed both Westmeath and Kildare men’s teams in the past. There was a certain ambition in appointing someone of that stature, which the Kildare county board deserve credit for.

There have been reports that training numbers were far smaller than they had been in 2022, and there was a concern expressed by the county board about relying on talented minors to take part in training and games, even though the use of younger players is obviously par for the course in camogie.

But there was a team there ready and willing to represent their county, as they had done in the league earlier in the season. A source close to the team told me yesterday that one scenario that was briefly considered and then dismissed in Tuesday night’s meeting was that the players could crack on and represent their county if they liked, but that they would get no support from their own county board.

“So ... if they were going to play, the county board wouldn’t have organised buses to games, or anything?”, I asked. There was a pause on the other end of the line. “They wouldn’t have had buses anyway.”

I, and many men in the GAA, have no idea what “minimum” standards are.

These minimum standards are not ones drawn up by the Kildare camogie squad and their county board. They exist wherever Gaelic games are played.

I played a game for my club’s third team, in the less-than-salubrious confines of Division 8 of the Dublin adult football leagues, two weeks ago, and we didn’t have access to a dressing-room before or after the game.

I moaned about this for days. I wouldn’t class myself as a bleater, but I would say that I bleated about this. Repeatedly. How could we, as GAA people, possibly be giving equivalent treatment to my male club’s AFL8 team, and the best camogie players in Kildare? It seems utterly bizarre. But we accept it – so we’re implicated, for better or worse.