Coming back from camogie’s low ebb

One of the best things to come out of this week’s ‘coin toss’ is everyone and their mother know Clare and Dublin are playing in Thurles this afternoon.

The story made headlines, even around the world, with most of the comments directed at the Camogie Association. While I am relieved the situation is resolved and that all have moved forward, I was a bit underwhelmed at the time by the whole experience.

Flipping a coin or drawing lots should never have been considered an option to decide the future of any team. To me, that was the core issue, a decision made in a meeting room some months ago. It was a crazy idea in the first place and, to be fair to the powers that be, this was acknowledged in the cold light of day.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the statement on Tuesday a draw would be made on Wednesday morning on YouTube. It was so disheartening. I feared much of the good work being done by the association would be lost. And I felt bad for the girls who train and play, week in, week out. Because these are the months to be enjoyed, when you know you are getting nearer the big September prize.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. Fair enough, but it is how you handle it. By now, we have heard both sides and my mind is more at ease that we have a favourable outcome. The Camogie Association is 111 years old. I suppose there will always be ups and downs in any organisation.

By Wednesday afternoon, Clare and Dublin had accepted the offer of a play-off. I wish it had been sorted earlier though without the furore. I know the winners will line out again on Monday against Wexford and a 48-hour turnaround is not ideal, however some compromise had to be made, and time was running out.

The story must now be parked and the action must return to the field of play – Tom Semple’s field where Dublin and Clare (2pm) will be followed by Cork and Tipperary at 4pm.

It was ironic, in a sense, Dublin were so much in the news because they haven’t been in the limelight for some time. They have made huge strides under new manager Shane O’Brien this season. The Cuala man and his management are putting in an enormous effort and it has given the championship a massive lift to see them compete again.

Dublin assistant PRO Gerry O’Sullivan says the last time the Dublin camogie team played in Semple Stadium was against the home side in 2008. That is a long time ago and a lengthy wait to get back there. It would have been such a pity had they been denied that opportunity. Clare are first out onto the pitch today followed by Dublin a few minutes later and I can only imagine the rapturous reception they will receive.

The Friends of Dublin Hurling (FODH) will be there too to lend their support. They have joined up with Dublin Camogie to organise a bus to the Tipperary venue. Now, isn’t that a positive spin, the county rallying behind their team. Players like Louise O’Hara is wearing the Sky Blue jersey for over two decades. She is probably one of the few Dubs who lined out in Thurles all of those eight years ago.

Usually, this column previews the games, highlights key players and attempts to pick winners. But, we couldn’t gloss over what happened this week. Points difference, I hope, will be the preferred choice if needs be next year. Then again, a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.


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