League semi-final is the perfect remedy for Amy O’Connor after testing week

Amy O’Connor has a league semi-final appointment today with the Cork camogie team.
League semi-final is the perfect remedy for Amy O’Connor after testing week

Limerick in Páirc Uí Rinn (4pm) is a welcome relief after a week of pharmacy exams, she says.

“Training’s going well, from the start of the year we said we’d try to win every game and it’s been going well so far.

“A semi-final is different, obviously, and we’ll be expecting Limerick to come out all guns blazing. We’re confident, but we won’t be complacent, certainly. Limerick are progressing, definitely. They won the intermediate All-Ireland a couple of years ago and they’re doing well in senior — we always seem to be drawn against them — they’re young and they’re learning and improving all the time.”

Along with her All-Ireland senior camogie medals, O’Connor has bright memories from another sport — she played in a UEFA U19 European Championships semi-final, after all.

She hasn’t pored over the details surrounding the Irish Women’s team and their stand-off with the FAI, but she can draw on her experience in the green of Ireland for comparisons.

“Camogie was my first love, so I went with that rather than the soccer, but to be honest I couldn’t praise the FAI enough for the way we were treated all the way up. I thought we were treated very well.

“Yes, we gave back tracksuits at the end of a tournament, that was the way it was. When I was in sixth year I missed 11 weeks of school travelling with the Irish team, and we stayed in the best of hotels, got the best of gear — fair enough, we gave some of it back — but at the end of a tournament you kept the green jersey.

“Look, if the men are getting more it’s not fair, so it’s good if it’s more equal, fair play to them (the current squad).

“I can only talk about my own experience, and maybe we weren’t treated as well as the boys, I don’t know, but I couldn’t complain.

“You could be at a tournament for three full weeks and you wouldn’t have to pay for as much as a sock.

“Don’t forget, too, that in a sport like basketball the players have to raise money to play for their country. We never had to do that.

“If the wider point is ‘why shouldn’t we be treated as well as the men’, obviously that’s a fair point to make. I’m not involved in it anymore obviously, and even this week I had enough on my plate with these exams, so I wasn’t paying that much attention to it!”

The disparity in profile between men and women isn’t that far away for O’Connor: “There can be an attitude of ‘let’s get on with it’ to an extent with women in sport, and that may not be the right attitude either.

“In Cork the male players would have sponsored cars, expenses paid. Aisling (Thompson) has a sponsored car, which is fair enough, but how many All-Irelands have Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley won?

“I think the attitude among women may be ‘that’s the way it is and we won’t cause a fuss’.

“So maybe they (the Ireland senior soccer team) are right to kick up a fuss. We’re putting in as much time on the field as the men are.

“The WGPA was a good step, for instance. It all helps, every step is a step forward.”

There’s another step forward — the Kilkenny-Galway semi-final is being live-streamed via the Camogie Association’s and Littlewoods Ireland digital channels. “It’s good,” says O’Connor. “Normally with the camogie nobody is really watching the games until you get to the All-Ireland semi-final stage, so that’s another good move, definitely.”

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