Limerick Camogie Board hits out at 'untrue and bordering on defamatory' comments

Jerome O'Connell


Jerome O'Connell


Clare next up for Limerick camogie

LIMERICK Camogie County Board has issued a lengthy statement in response to a comments made, this past week, by a number of members of the 2019 inter-county panel.

A Karen O'Leary interview in the Limerick Leader on Monday was followed by Roisin Ambrose and Rebecca Delee articles elsewhere - all highlighted player welfare issues.

This Sunday evening, Limerick Camogie Board issued a 1979-word statement in reply.

The statement in full reads: 

"Unfortunately the result of today’s match means that our senior team cannot progress further in this competition. The game against Kilkenny is about rebuilding for the 2021 season. We would like to thank the panel of 26 players for their time and commitment to the Limerick jersey. We have lost several key players this year for various reasons - marriage, work commitments, college, other sporting commitments. While this was disappointing, we would like to thank Paul and his team for
all their work this year.

He brought with him a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to prepare the panel for the season ahead. We couldn’t have foreseen in January the way the year would go, but again Paul and his team worked to ensure the best possible preparation for an unusual season in extremely challenging times. Paul has now stepped down from his position of Senior manager during
the week, due to personal circumstances. We wish him the best and are thinking of him, and all his family at this time.

Out of respect for our current panel of players and management, given that this was a very important Championship game today, we refrained from commenting on the interviews in the media during the past week.

It was very disappointing to read some of the comments by ex-Limerick players this past week.

Player welfare is always taken very seriously in Limerick Camogie. We strive at all times to ensure that our players are looked after. We would like to clarify that our Senior team have had, and still have a strength and conditioning coach. They had 2 physios with them during the league campaign but since the return to play, due to other work commitments, they had to step down. However another well qualified physio was employed by the Board. At no time have our Senior panel been deprived of these services.

It was also stated that no contact was made when a player was injured. The Board can confirm that injured player was indeed contacted by both a member of the County Board and the Senior Manager. We have copies of text conversations to corroborate this.

Our sponsors of the senior team have kindly purchased all the gear for the senior team back through the years, and if any other gear was purchased by players, it was of their own accord. The majority of the comments made about the County Board and the senior manager in this weeks media were untrue and are bordering on defamatory.

It was always going to be difficult to run Club competitions this year in the short window of time that we were given especially with County training commencing on 14th September while club fixtures were still ongoing. We had hoped that all clubs would understand this and that they would be accommodating where issues arose. Great credit is due to our fixtures committee who for the past 4 years, has, in consultation with the Limerick LGFA, organised and run Club League and Championship
competitions at all levels from adult right down to U13.

Last November, the Board was delighted when Keith Hennessy, contacted us with regard to setting up an Academy of Athletic Development in Limerick. As part of this academy Keith provided access to training Apps, training plans and a Strength & Conditioning coach to all our County panels from U14 right up to Senior level. The strength & conditioning plan was implemented and was being followed by all squads. Once the lock down came into force, this programme had to cease as per
GAA restrictions governing the provision of personal training plans. Unfortunately due to a change in circumstances, Keith could not continue with the Academy after lock down but we would like to thank him for the immense amount of work he had put into setting it up and maintaining the programme for all our County players and we hope that we might be able to continue with the academy next season.

We want to thank the Woodlands Hotel, for their continued support and sponsorship of our Senior team for the past few years. The Fitzgerald family have always been very generous to the players, supplying their gear each year, enabling access to their gym facilities and providing after match meals for home matches. This year has been a terrible year for the hospitality sector. We are thinking of Mary and all the Fitzgerald family as they are now closed again and hopefully when things improve, we will be able to resume our working relationship.

We also want to thank LIT for their continued sponsorship of the Underage Academy and the Premier Junior squad. LIT have been more than generous with their facilities to all our squads. Last March when club pitches were closed due to the terrible weather, LIT hosted four matches – two U16 Munster Council Semi Finals on the Saturday and two National League matches on the following Sunday. The Board had asked over 60 clubs including the Gaelic Grounds for the use of a pitch that
particular weekend and were more than grateful for the support of LIT. Again last weekend, while club pitches remain closed, LIT hosted 3 matches for Limerick Camogie. It remains a long term goal of the Board to acquire a Camogie pitch but financial constraints and the ongoing pandemic has delayed any progression in this project.

Limerick Camogie spends approximately €50000 each year on the Senior team. This covers management, physio, strength & conditioning, pitch hire and equipment. Each away match costs almost €1000 to cover buses and meals which are provided for players after away matches. We do receive a Government Grant of €9000 but it does not go very far. We have always strived to do our best for all our players on a very limited budget. We are mostly self funding, while depending on sponsorship and fundraising to finance all our County teams along with the Underage academy, and club competitions and development. The Underage academy is partly funded by the parents. Because of the year it was, we could not approach sponsors or organise fund-raisers. We also refrained from levying our clubs this year as they were all struggling financially as well. We feel we did well to achieve what we did this year and we would have hoped that players would understand the financial pressure we are under. We would love to be able to provide all the things that their male counterparts get – hot meals after training, travel expenses etc, but unfortunately at the present time this is just not possible.

Fixtures Committees Response to recent media interview

Having read the statements in the media this week, it is clear that people do not understand the complexity of scheduling games and taking account of County fixtures, both at Munster & National level and club fixtures for both codes. During any camogie season there are over seventy camogie teams competing in various competitions, on average each team has 5 games which means there are over 350 games that need to be scheduled on dates outside county fixtures at various age groups.
All county teams from U16 up to Senior will affect the scheduling of your adult competitions. This is not even considering Limerick Ladies Football club and county fixtures.

We accept that people may feel aggrieved at how the final fixtures schedule happened but this was totally out of the control of the Limerick Camogie fixtures committee. When it became clear that clubs fixtures would be able to resume the Limerick Camogie and Limerick Ladies football had several discussions and due to the short time in which games could be played the Limerick Camogie fixtures committee took the decision to reduce the amount of games that are usually scheduled for the championship. In reducing our schedule we agreed with Limerick Ladies Football that we would run our competition on alternative weekends. This decision was taken to allow dual players to have the ability to play both codes without having to choose one code over the other or having games clashing.

Our original Senior County Final was scheduled for 4th of October 2020 (First Sunday in October which is the usual date our finals take place each year). Following the ratification of the Munster fixtures, it was noticed that they had scheduled the Senior Munster semi-final for the same date. The fixtures secretary sent an email to all clubs involved with the suggestion that we would bring our finals forward by two weeks to the 20th September 2020 to allow the winning team to take part in
the Munster competition. The reason they were brought forward by two week was due to our agreement with Limerick Ladies Football that we would play our games on alternative weekends and their finals were on the 27th September 2020. All clubs responded in agreement with this proposal.

The senior competition was then rescheduled, and the 3rd round of the competition was played on Wednesday 2nd September 2020 with the senior semi-finals taking place on Sunday 6th September.

This schedule then allowed for the Limerick Ladies football to have their semi-finals on the Sunday 13th September 2020.
The opponents against whom Newcastle West were due to play in the senior camogie semi-final, notified the County Board that one of their club members had been a close contact of a positive case of Covid-19, this person was part of their Senior team setup and the club informed us that they had to stand down their Senior and Junior camogie teams until the results of that person’s test had come back. The period it took for this person to get their results back, resulted in the semi-final having to be postponed. The results came back negative allowing us to reschedule the semi-final. Both clubs were offered three possible dates to play the game. Newcastle West felt none of these dates were suitable and did not propose any alternative dates within the revised time frame while their opponents advised that all three dates were acceptable to them. The fixtures committee had no option but to set a date they felt was suitable (Tuesday 15th September 2020) to allow for the Final
to proceed as scheduled.

As previously stated due to the Munster Senior semi-finals being fixed for 4th October 2020 and the fact that all the clubs had agreed they wanted the option to play in the Munster competition this meant the final could not be changed from 20th September 2020.

Yes fixing the postponed semi-final for the Tuesday night was not ideal but when you have only a small period of time in which to complete the competitions sometimes you have no other options which was the situation in this case. We have email correspondence to collaborate all statements and facts above in relation to the fixtures.

We as a County took the decision that both Limerick camogie and Limerick Ladies Football would meet to give dual players the best possible opportunities to play both codes if they so wished.

Limerick Camogie Fixtures committee and Limerick Ladies Football fixtures committee have been meeting for the last four years to discuss and review both of their fixture schedules and this have proved very successful. Over the past few years there has been very few clashes between the fixtures of both codes.

Limerick LGFA confirming the meetings
Limerick Ladies football have been working with Limerick Camogie for the last few years, and this year was no exception, both codes discussed their fixtures and reduced their usual schedule of matches for championship and also agreed to go alternative weekends so that no dual players would be made to choose one code over the other. We did our best, given the limited window, to try and avoid clashes where possible for dual players.