‘It’ll never work… The last thing the players want is not to play next Saturday’

CAVAN CAMOGIE MANAGER Jimmy Greville says the logistics of the association’s controverisal proposed 2021 fixture plan will “never work” and says that his side does not want to be in a position where they may not fulfill league games.

Cavan manager Jimmy Greville.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

The Camogie Association has been heavily criticised in the wake of its plan to deviate from the GAA and LGFA by implementing a different schedule this season. The format will see inter-county leagues begin first, before the players return to their clubs for county championships.

The inter-county All-Ireland championships will then take place later in the year.

The Gaelic Players Association [GPA] revealed at the weekend that 84% of players who responded to a survey voted that they will not participate in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues later this month, should the current season structure be retained.

In response to the backlash, the Camogie Association announced that they would be polling its members about the issue and that the result “will guide our fixture calendar”.

Greville — whose Cavan side is due to open their Division 4 campaign against Wicklow on Saturday — says the proposed format will have a significant impact on dual players.

“For ourselves in Cavan, the All-Ireland Premier Junior championship is going to be ran, from the current situation, alongside the club football championship. 95% of my panel is dual club players, they play both.

“I’ve seven dual players in Cavan that play camogie and football with the county.

“Cavan is a football county and that’s just the way it is. I know other counties are in the same boat and they’re might be other counties on the other side of it where it’s just all camogie.

“For us, you can’t expect the girls to choose between club and county. At the end of the day, club is number one, where you learn everything. 

“It’ll never work.”

“I can definitely see the pros in it as well in having a split season and you can see both sides of it. But when you go into the terms and conditions of it, it gets very messy and gets to the point where it’s not enjoyable. If it’s not enjoyable, there’s no point doing it.”

The Camogie Association confirmed their intention to poll its members on Sunday and said they will continue to do so over the next seven days.

When asked for his prediction about the outcome of that process, Greville replied:

“It’s very hard to know. All I wish for and hope is that all the girls that are polled are given the correct information by their clubs or county boards. That you don’t have a county board pushing their own agenda as such or their own thoughts on it.

“If the members come back and vote for the way the Camogie Association have done it, then that’s it, put it to bed. That’s the way it’s going to be done, let’s concentrate on the league.

Roisin O’Keefe in action for Cavan in the Premier Junior final.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“But this should have been done in January, February, March before there was ever a ball hit. Get it sorted.

“Now we’re 10 days out from the first fixture of 2021, and it’s all up in the air. It’s just crazy, the length of time they left the decision.”

Cavan have made impressive strides in camogie in recent times, effectively reaching two All-Ireland finals last year after a decade away from the inter-county scene.

They captured the Nancy Murray Cup in November before falling short against Armagh in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Final a few weeks later.

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Remarking on the prospect of boycotting the league if the situation is not resolved, Greville stressed that his players want to fulfill their fixtures and continue their progression in camogie.

“At the end of the day, we want to play games. Last year was the first in 10 or 11 years where Cavan competed at national level. If we don’t compete this year, it will be a backward step. We can’t afford that.

“We need to be playing games and be competing. I hope it doesn’t come to that because that’s not good for camogie. But at the end of the day, will the Camogie Association take the so-called weaker counties into account?

“It’s the bigger counties. If they say they’re not going to be participating, that’s where the alarm bells will ring because the high-profile names and teams… that’s where the notice will be taken.

“The last thing I want personally and the last thing the players want is not to play next Saturday. They’re looking forward to it. We’re only playing in-house games and competing drills and stuff like this.”

Greville concluded by emphasising the importance of hearing what the players have to say about the schedule for the 2021 camogie season.

“Let’s listen to the players because, realistically, without the players, you wouldn’t have the association. That’s it. If the GAA and LGFA went the opposite way and the Camogie Association were trying to do the split season, it’s just, ‘Why can’t we come together as three organisations and say this is the plan and just go at it?’

“The Camogie Association want the best for camogie, the players want the best for camogie so they have to meet there in that middle ground to say what is the best for camogie.”

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