And so week three of the Liberty Insurance Camogie championship is upon us and with wins for Kilkenny and Wexford last weekend it means that victories for Galway and Derry are of the utmost importance this Saturday writes Claire O'Connor in her weekly Championship Diary. Offaly and Tipperary should serve up an interesting senior game while Limerick and Waterford in the Intermediate championship are both gaining serious momentum. As I mentioned last week, it is a testing time for many inter county players who juggle club and county championships respectively.
Knocks and niggles will take their toll. This may come as a surprise to those outside our camogie world, who assume that camogie is a non- contact sport! But is there any Camogie player in Ireland who believes this to be true? If you’re like me, the answer is no. We have all had our share of dead legs, cuts and bruises. In other words- there has always been contact in camogie.
Can we compare our sport to basketball? Another supposed non-contact sport, yet superstars like Lebron James would argue the case regarding “off the ball” marking, rebounding and defence (basic man handling to gain advantage). As Camogie players, we love a free flowing game and in most games, we are pretty happy to let a lot go, as long as there is a consistent application of the rules.
Players certainly have sporting responsibilities. At the top level, it would be foolish to think that players are not aware of professional and cynical fouling, but also mindful of the need for discipline. One could refer to it as the need to play “on the edge”, rather than over it. Keeping players in check and allowing the game to flow, is the delicate task.
Referees face an unenviable job, managing games; and, in the case of inter-county championship, these are high pressure games where players will push for every little advantage, playing “on the edge” with so much at stake. Last weekend’s games, certainly caused me to reflect on the demands we place on our referees in contrast to other sports.
Again I refer to basketball- one court, 10 players and only 28 metres long (approx). They use two or three referees of equal status to make a call. Rugby have 30 players, a 100 metre pitch between try lines, the referee, a hawk eye on everything that moves, television referees, timekeepers, the list goes on. (I am using international test rugby as an example).
Contrast this to Camogie and GAA hurling games at inter-county level. Let’s use Croke Park as an example which is 144 metres long with 30 players; yet one referee is expected to assess every incident, record every score, mark every foul and not miss a single thing or make a single error! The latter can have devastating consequences on a team’s fortunes.
It’s been a topic of discussion, debate and I am sure lots of arguments but is it time to lend referees a helping hand and introduce a second referee, to supervise one half of the field? I can't imagine referees would oppose the idea of a partner referee or would they? Maybe it’s something for another day, once championship has been wrapped up? For now though I am turning my attention back to the games and another busy weekend, starting with my own native Wexford on Saturday in Wexford Park. We welcome old rivals Galway, whom we have had many a battle with and there is alot at stake for both sides. Until next week, enjoy the games.
Follow Claire O'Connor, former Wexford Camogie player, All Ireland winner and All Star on twitter at @clairnichon and at www.camogie.ie for her weekly championship diary