Lions Rugby, Wimbledon, Camogie and GAA action are some of the topics on the table in this weekend’s Liberty Insurance Camogie Championship Diary by former Wexford All Ireland winner Claire O’Connor.
At the time of writing this, I thought what pride the Lions team instilled in us last weekend in their 'unity'. Ironically, we were united with our closest "rivals" England. We celebrated their team play, cheered for their scores and categorically denied any wrong doing on the part of OUR team – the four united nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It led me to reflect on GAA & Camogie, of the unity in our sport when a team pulls together- mortal enemies during midweek club championship games (as is the case in Wexford) and a united force in the county jersey at the weekend. Sportswomanship at its very best.
However, it also prompted me to ponder the tricky issue of inter-county and club championship games and the challenges of scheduling. It’s a difficult balancing act. In the case of Wexford, county players tog out at the weekend and then don their club jersey on Monday night for another competitive battle. The turn-around time on players is onerous, specifically in terms of rest and recuperation, while Monday night hardly seems the most high profile night on which to run off the club championship? While I strongly agree that the club championships should go on, surely there is a “better” night to showcase the talents of the club camogie player, who have been training three or four nights in pursuit of a highly vaunted county championship title.
Perhaps, one area to look at is a double up with GAA club hurling fixtures which take place most weekends? Why not? Granted the fixtures committee in each county have an unenviable task and months of planning goes into creating the fixtures, but who’s to say that going forward, there is not the opportunity to create double headers were possible at club level, similar to national level?
As for today, it marks the start of the championship for All Ireland holders Wexford. Although there may have been hot and cold performances and a juggling of mentors of late, these will not weaken the resolve of the panel. Years of comprehensive training, mental strength and championship successes will provide the character and fitness to get Wexford off to a positive start. As Wimbledon, is underway, I find myself drawing comparisons, in the sense, that while other competitions run on during the year, the focus of the inter-county player, as that of the individual tennis professionals, is always on the big prize. Traditionally and in my own experience, the attention has always been on championship! Group One of the senior championship may have seemed like the undesirable group with extra games to play in order to qualify. But, from experience I would rather play more games and train less- nothing beats championship hurling to bring you up to speed.
Speaking of games, based on last weekend’s Camogie and GAA action, the Cats made their mark with no lives lost in Galway. Clinical Clare showed that they are a force to be reckoned with, and we thought the hurlers might have taken a leaf from their book, but alas the class of the Cork hurlers took its toll- as did the formidable force of the Rebel girls against Tipperary.There may have been drama when London and Leitrim ended in a draw in the Connacht football championship and this was mirrored in camogie by Antrim and Cork, Kildare and Laois at Intermediate and Junior levels respectively. Dublin and Carlow both showed promise too with wins at Junior level. Round two throws in, this weekend and if you are not already planning on going, then my advice is go! Nothing beats being there.
Claire O'Connor is a former All Ireland winner with Wexford and All Star. Follow Claire on twitter @clairnichon