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Camogie Association has missed a massive opportunity, says Cork manager Paudie Murray
Murray: "The minute I saw that the GAA was going to go with October onwards for their intercounty season, I thought it was an ideal opportunity for the Camogie Association to start with intercounty first."
Last Updated: 25/06/20 7:04am
Cork manager Paudie Murray has said that it was a 'no-brainer' for the Camogie Association to play the All-Ireland Championship over the summer months.
On Tuesday evening, the plans for the 2020 Camogie season were unveiled, with the intercounty campaign being ran off between October and December.
"I think that Camogie have missed a massive opportunity here. I think this was a no-brainer," Murray told Sky Sports.
"The minute I saw that the GAA were going to go with October onwards for their intercounty season, I thought it was an ideal opportunity for the Camogie Association to start with intercounty first.
"From an intercounty point of view, it would take pressure off the county boards in that if we're back in September, we'll have to go and find pitches that are floodlit. That gathers more expenses from an intercounty point of view, and not all venues are suitable for the county. I think intercounty Camogie teams from September onwards will find it very difficult to get training venues."
"From a promotional point of view, particularly when we're in 2020 and they were all talk about this big year for women's sport, this to me was a no-brainer," he continued.
"Every Sunday, provided obviously there are people out there that want to televise our games, we would be getting a Sunday free to promote our games, to show off intercounty players and their skills. Whereas in previous years that wouldn't be the case.
"People were all talking about Niamh Kilkenny last year [after the All-Ireland final]. It was the first year that Galway got to an All-Ireland final in a number of years. It was something that I had seen for the last number of years - people of her standard. But it's only when people see her on television on All-Ireland final day, they do realise that these people can play.
"That's what's bugging me at the moment. From July onwards, if these games were being televised, people would realise that there a lot more Niamh Kilkennys out there. So I think it was a major missed opportunity."
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He also fears that when intercounty matches do return, they will be played in difficult conditions which may damage the quality of the spectacle.
"The other thing that worries me is the situation from October onwards, are we going back to the pitch with a rope around the sidelines keeping spectators out, with long grass? Pitches and venues are going to be difficult," he noted.
"For this to work, we've got to be playing in the Nowlan Parks, the Páirc Uí Chaoimhs, Gaelic Grounds to be fair to the girls. That's a very important thing that needs to happen.
"It's a disservice to the girls [otherwise]."
The counter-argument by many is that a summer intercounty programme would force the club season towards the end of the year, but Murray feels this would not necessarily be a bad thing for the sport at grassroots level.
"That's not me trying to belittle the club scene. As I always say, I was a club player first and last. So it would have made more sense from a club point of view and an intercounty point of view on the Camogie side," he said.
"I know this from my own club, Camogie teams trying to get pitches to train on, to get pitches to play matches on, to get referees to referee matches in the present climate, particularly when the football and hurling are back as well, will make life very uncomfortable for a lot of club teams.
"I know that there would be a number of counties that would have spoken to their clubs, that would have been in favour of intercounty going first. It would have given them time to get things right, to have more training, to play challenge games. It would take less pressure off the clubs.
"I think it was a major - and I stress that - it was a major missed opportunity from the Camogie point of view. Particularly when a lot of counties who had consulted with their clubs wanted county to go first."
And while he does feel that there are several downsides to the Camogie Association's announcement, Murray notes that there could be a motive driving their decision which would be for the betterment of the sport.
"Now I will say this. Maybe the Camogie [Association] have something up their sleeve, and we'll have to wait and see what happens," he said.
"If they go down the route from October onwards that our championship games will be double-headers with the hurlers, and they will be televised, if that is the case, then I have no problem. And obviously I'd love to see a situation this year where we would have a doubleheader for an All-Ireland final.
"And if those things happen, well then we've got congratulate the Camogie Association then. But at the moment, the way I see it, it was a major, major lost opportunity for women's sport."