Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray is adamant he didn’t threaten any players with the end of their inter-county careers if they played for UCC in the O’Connor Cup at the weekend.

The All-Ireland champions beat Limerick in Sunday’s National League semi-final without dual player Libby Coppinger, who opted to play for the college in the intervarsity football competition, while Hannah Looney and Méabh Cahalane lined out with Cork.

UCC manager Shane Ronayne had said that the players were told that they would never play for Cork again if they played in the O’Connor Cup, but Murray has denied that, as well as questioning Ronayne’s authority to speak on behalf of the college.

“What was said to the girls – and I only spoke to two of them – was that there would be severe consequences,” Murray said.

What that meant was that, if we won the semi-final and the players who came into the team played well, they would keep their place. In every game we play, we give players the chance to put down a marker but we go out to win too.

“What I want to know is, what did UCC do to attempt to avoid the clash of fixtures? I tried everything to resolve it and I brought it to their attention, I don’t think they did anything to avoid it.

“Secondly, did they send texts to the girls threatening their scholarships if they didn’t play for the college, and is the same done to male players? If it wasn’t anybody in the college who sent them, do they approve of Shane Ronayne doing that?

“Thirdly, do UCC approve of the O’Connor Cup management sending texts to the Cork camogie management in the middle of the night?

“I’ve heard people saying that Brian Cody would release his players, but this was football, would he have let his players play Sigerson if that situation arose?”

Meanwhile, former Cork dual star Mary O’Connor believes that the 2018 campaign could be an eye-opener across all codes as changes in schedules begin to take hold.

“Something which hasn’t really been mentioned in any of this,” she says, “is that the camogie semi-finals are normally later in the year, but they brought things forward this year so that the league final could be on before the National hurling league final.

“In other years, the O’Connor Cup might have clashed with camogie league games but they weren’t as important and it was easier to release players. I think it’s something you might see in the men’s games too with April supposedly being kept free I can sympathise with both sides but I sympathise with the players most of all.

I hope that it’s not the beginning of the end for dual players. You don’t have any in the men’s games anymore and, to be fair, camogie and ladies’ football have done their utmost in recent times to accommodate them.

“I think that they should look at the time length of time it takes to play certain competitions, and as well the amount of games that girls can play above their own age-group.

We need to make sure that they’re still playing at the highest level when they’re 27 or 28 – if you start playing inter-county when you’re 15 or 16, it takes a lot of dedication and luck in terms of not getting injured to still be playing in your late 20s, going from January to October every year.”


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