Pictured in early 2020 ahead of the AIB All-Ireland camogie club finals, from left: Michael Green (Sponsorship Marketing Manager, AIB), Áine Lyng (Gailltír), Emma Corcoran (St Rynagh’s), Niamh McGrath (Sarsfields), Gráinne Ní Chatháin (Slaughtneil) and then Camogie Association President Kathleen Woods. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy.

Camogie row rumbles on as clubs take case to DRA

St Rynagh's are among a group of 35 camogie clubs who are furious over the decision not to conclude the 2020 provincial and All-Ireland club championships.

And now a number of the clubs have decided to take the matter to the GAA's Disputes Relation Authority (DRA).

The competitions at senior, intermediate and junior levels commenced last year before being abandoned due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Offaly champions St Rynagh's were due to play Rathnure of Wexford in the Leinster intermediate championship.

A recent vote in favour of a split season - which provides for the inter-county scene to be completed before club action takes place - has led to the cancellation of the club fixtures leftover from last season.

In the fixtures plan originally proposed by the Camogie Association last month, these competitions were due to be completed. However, in a national poll clubs voted by a narrow margin to change to a county/club split season - instead of a club/county/club model as originally proposed .

The poll saw 53 per cent of responding clubs endorse the split season option. That change led to the cancellation by the Camogie Association of the 2020 provincial and All-Ireland competitions.

The group of clubs affected by that decision have been campaigning for the outstanding competitions to be played and they have released a statement saying that some clubs have decided to take the issue to the DRA.

In a statement the clubs have outlined their continued frustration, and they contend that they've been left with no other option but to refer the matter to the DRA.

They have proposed that there is a three-week window between June 7th and June 27th to finish the championships.

The clubs wrote to the Ard Comhairle of the Camogie Association before its meeting this week asking for the decision to cancel the championships to be reversed.

“While we understand and acknowledge that this past year has posed unprecedented difficulties for the Association and for those charged with administering its affairs, the clubs have proposed a reasonable alternative which would allow the championships to be played," said the statement from the clubs.

“However, following the decision of the Ard Comhairle of Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael not to complete the Club Championship 2020, a number of clubs affected have been left with no option other than to refer the decision to the Dispute Resolutions Authority in an effort to resolve the issue.

“The clubs are the heart of our sport and we want club players to have the opportunity to play at the highest level available to them.”

In an earlier statement, signed by the St Rynagh's camogie players, they said they were "devastated and infuriated" by the decision not to conclude the 2020 provincial and All-Ireland club championships.

St Rynagh's are no strangers to competing at a high level. They were narrowly defeated by Gailltír of Waterford in the All-Ireland intermediate final, played in March 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. That journey to the All-Ireland final came about after the Banagher side won the 2019 Offaly title.

And having retained the Offaly crown in 2020, they were due to embark on another Leinster campaign.

"We are devastated and infuriated with this decision," said the St Rynagh's players' statement.

"As players who have given so much to their club, and received even more in return, it’s hard to imagine how we can be treated with such blatant disregard.

“After winning a hard-fought battle on September 26th, 2020 in our county final, we have put in countless hours of at home, in isolation training with the belief that the association would uphold their promise of the 2020 AIB provincial and All-Ireland championships.

“As a club and as a group of players we have huge respect for the work being done at a national level to try and run the camogie leagues and championships as smoothly as possible given the adverse environment we have found ourselves in once again.

"Faced with lockdown after lockdown over the past 12 months, the vast majority of our training has taken place in our own front gardens; slogging through the winter months and struggling through the mental blocks that is training in isolation without any access to facilities," the statement continued.

The players said that the prospect of playing their Leinster quarter-final against Rathnure was "a constant goal" in their minds. But within hours of returning to training after the lifting of Covid restrictions, they said "devastation hit".

"Why is it that the association has shown such disregard for its club players?" the Rynagh's camogie players asked.

"Why after months of being promised the chance to represent our club at provincial level did the association axe the competition with not so much as an email to that regard to the clubs and players involved?

"Being a small percentage of the camogie population, it’s hard to get our voices heard. It’s even harder when the ‘big names’ of the association took to social media to support ‘option 2’ (the split season model).

“Who is there to stand up for us? Nobody only ourselves, we’ve been left stranded without even acknowledgment from the association as to the championship we have been promised. At this point, we as players just want to get out and play. We’ve gone months without camogie, without seeing our teammates, and to now be faced with not being able to complete what kept us focused and driven. What is the point? Why have we spent so long training in isolation to be disregarded like this?

"It's not just a series of games we’re concerned with anymore, it’s our whole community, the prospect of a provincial series has kept our club and community going over the last eight months. Do we not deserve the same courtesy as the ‘big names’ of the association to have our voices heard?" said the statement from the St Rynagh's players.

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