The nine players — Sarah Fahy, Niamh Ní Chaoimh, Amy Lee, Katelyn Hickey, Leah Weste, Sarah Buckley, Finola Neville, Lauren Callinan, and Rebecca Walsh — learned of their fate in a letter from the Camogie Association dated Monday, February 1. With Croke Park stating that the decision cannot be appealed, the Cork intermediates have been robbed of over half their starting team for the 2016 campaign.
Cork’s second team were due to open their Division 2 league account away to Antrim on Sunday, but have been forced to concede the game, as they would not be able to field a team.
Under Rule 30.1 (c), the 11 Cork senior panellists who won All-Ireland medals last September but did not play a single minute of senior championship camogie in 2015 were required to apply for regrading to be eligible to line out for the Cork intermediates in 2016. The 11 application forms were sent to the Cork Camogie secretary last month and then forwarded to Croke Park for approval.
Nine of the 11 applications were rejected on the grounds that the players in question typed their name where they should have signed it with a pen.
In the letter, signed by Camogie Association ard stiúrthóir Joan O’Flynn on February 1, each player is informed that “Ard Chomhairle did not grant your request as it was noted that your form was not personally signed by you as required”.
The players went through the exact same process a year ago where, despite typing their signature on the application form, rather than printing it, each was successfully regraded to intermediate.
“That is what we cannot understand,” said Cork Camogie Board chair Mary McSweeney, “These girls were regraded last year and, despite filling out the form exactly the same this year, their applications have been rejected.”
McSweeney vowed the Cork board would not rest until justice prevailed.
“We are not accepting this. These girls are Cork camogie. They want their voices heard. We will continue to fight this,” she said.
“The girls are extremely frustrated. They filled out the form the same as they did 12 months ago and, yet, are being told they cannot play for their county and, unless they see game-time with the seniors, they face a year on the sideline with Cork.”
A statement released by the Camogie Association to the Irish Examiner last night said: “The rule is clear as to the process for applying for regrading and this rule has been in place for several years. A number of submissions were received on behalf of Cork players. A number of these, along with submissions from players from other counties, were in accordance with the required procedure and were deemed eligible. Ard Chomhairle considered these requests and issued its decision to the players.
“A number of other player regrading requests from Cork were deemed ineligible by Ard Chomhairle as they did not accord with the required process. This Ard Chomhairle decision was also notified to the players. This process was applied to all applications received from players from several counties and all applications were treated in the same way.”
Each of the nine players are eligible to play for the Cork seniors in Division 1 league game at Limerick on Sunday.