By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Joan O’Flynn’s term as camogie president comes to an end as annual congress takes place in her native Cork this weekend, but there is plenty of business to be taken care of before the Kildare resident can hand over her duties to Aileen Lawlor.
Included are a number of motions proposing some key changes to playing rules as a result of consultations with players, managers and officials over the past 12 months.
These include increasing the worth of a sideline cut that goes directly over the bar to two points, increasing the number of substitutes allowed in all league competitions to eight and establishing more defined categories under which various acts of foul play come under.
“There has been quite a bit of debate on whether camogie is becoming over-physical or not so we’ve classified the fouls in a clearer way as technical fouls, rough play and aggressive fouls” said O’Flynn. “They should give clearer guidance to players, coaches and referees.
“Two points for a sideline is a reward for one of the great skills of the game. You want to incentivise the elements in any sport that make you gasp. I also think it would make teams think more about playing the ball out of defence rather than playing it out over the line.
“As regards the eight subs, teams now carry 30 players in a panel at inter-county level. People use leagues generally to try and identify new players for the championship. There’s an experimental element to it so increasing the number of subs to eight would facilitate that and facilitate player participation.”
The results of a player welfare report will be released over the weekend as well. A total of 138 club, college and inter-county players over 18 and with an average age of 25 were surveyed for the report.
A worrying statistic in light of the near-fatal cardiac arrest suffered by Bolton soccer player Fabrice Muamba recently, was that 20% of the players had never undergone health screening. More than half reported being injured in the last six months.
The majority of respondents agreed that their commitment to camogie affected their family and social lives while the fact that just 6% of them were recompensed for expenses, even though 95% of them travelled more than 15 kilometres to train and play, is noteworthy. It was acknowledged, however, that the Camogie Association cannot afford to offer any allowance to players.
“What’s important is that we now have some baseline data on player welfare in camogie. We obviously need to do more research but this report will give us good guidance.”
Meanwhile, O’Flynn looks back with pride on her three years as camogie’s leader.
“I am delighted that there has been an expansion in participation, an improvement in coaching, playing, refereeing and administrative performances and a stronger profile for camogie. I think they’re the three legs of a stool for any sport’s governing body.
“I’m on the management team back with my club Celbridge now and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them.
“Aileen has great experience as a player, referee and official and she will put her own stamp on things.”
Pictured at last year’s Congress in Belfast 2011, Camogie Association President Joan O’Flynn