By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Aileen Lawlor became the 28th president of the Camogie Association in Cork on Saturday, succeeding Joan O’Flynn.
It was a day of many changes within the association at Rochestown Park Hotel, with the most eye-catching being the decision to award two points for a successful sideline cut. The motion to increase the number of substitutes that can be used during league competitions from five to eight was also approved by delegates.
All motions that were passed will become applicable one month after Congress.
It was a momentous weekend for Lawlor, who after a year of learning the ropes as president-elect, now enters centre stage.
The St Munna’s clubwoman is steeped in camogie. She won an All-Ireland senior club title with Crumlin in 1985 and added Leinster and league titles with Dublin before moving to Mullingar 20 years ago.
She added another provincial title with Westmeath and has been a key cog of the St Munna’s machine that has dominated the domestic scene in that period.
Lawlor took up refereeing as well and has taken charge of All-Ireland, league and interprovincial finals. Little wonder then, that one of the chief goals of her three-year terms is to increase the number of female referees officiating in camogie.
“Having been a referee myself, it’s something that’s close to my heart” Lawlor acknowledged. “For 15 years, it was unheard of to have a male referee in camogie but now it’s gone the other way around. We’re already making progress through the National Development Plan but you can never have enough so we will keep working hard on it.”
Lawlor is also aiming to continue the trend of increasing the association’s membership – 30 new clubs were established in the past year – while targeting an increased international profile too as emigration becomes more prevalent.
As someone who is highly experienced in the administrative side of camogie as well, Lawlor is a prime candidate to continue the good work carried out by her predecessor. Certainly, being president is something she takes very seriously.
“It’s hard to believe it. It’s a huge honour and privilege for me, for my club, for the county and for my family.”
Meanwhile, the Camogie Association joined the Ladies Gaelic Football Association in approving the One Club model, and with the GAA expected to do likewise later this month, significant progress can be expected to take place in this critical area.
The Player Welfare Report was also adopted, with a commitment given to putting a greater emphasis on that area in the coming years to come to conclusions and work on recommendations.
Pictured below: Aileen Lawlor at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork at the Camogie Association Congress