THE Mayo camogie county board chairperson Rosemary Smith has labelled the decision to cancel the All-Ireland Minor ‘C’ championship as ‘a thundering disgrace’.
The post-lockdown return-to-play has seen the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association torpedo a number of underage competitions.
The cancelling of all the All-Ireland Minor camogie championships came as a huge disappointment for those involved in promoting the game in Mayo.
“We had huge hopes for our Minors,” explained the Mayo chairperson. “They were doing serious training all throughout the winter. They’ve played together since Under-14 level.
“It brought the girls together and they got to know each other, instead of constantly playing against each other. They’re a mighty unit.”
The 2020 Minor team laid down a significant marker in their only game this year, back in early March, defeating Wicklow away, a county which Rosemary says has ‘nine or ten clubs’.
“With all the letters I’ve sent, I think it’s so important that it would go ahead,” she added.
“I think Cork are organising a campaign to re-instate it. It’s such a huge age and I think it’s a thundering disgrace it hasn’t gone ahead.”
With the Minor All-Ireland Championships called off, the Camogie Association are running provincial competitions for teams instead.
“They’re offering us a provincial championship, but Mayo are C, Roscommon are B and Galway are A so they may put us in Ulster or Leinster. It’s hugely disappointing,” says Rosemary.
Mayo have fielded inter-county camogie teams at underage level since 2016, when an Under-14 team – many of whom are members of the current Minor panel - captured the Michael Kennedy Cup. In 2018, the Under-16s reached the All-Ireland ‘C’ Final in their first year in the competition, where they lost out to Carlow.
Rosemary Smith says they are hoping to field an adult team next year. “Our hope is to get an adult team together next year, we haven’t had that for about six years,” she says. “If [the Minors] get a few matches in the provincial competition, [that will] keep the bond together and then we’ll drive on to adult level.”
Mayo camogie PRO Sinéad Muldoon is optimistic that the Green and Red will
be competitive at adult level in the coming years.
She says: “Camogie is small in Mayo but we’re competing massively against [bigger] counties. The girls are beginning to see that now. Now we’re looking at Minors who play football and camogie and they’re realising that they can go to a higher level with camogie. They’re seeing that they can go down to Kerry and Wicklow and represent their county, but also compete.”
TURN to page 8 to read our feature on camogie in Mayo.