BY GER McCARTHY
A NEW sponsorship deal with Clonakilty Food Company has Tony Coppinger and Carbery camogie hungry for championship success this year.
Interest in camogie throughout the West Cork region continues to grow so news of the western division’s new sponsorship deal with Clonakilty Food Company comes at an opportune time.
‘We are absolutely delighted to have Clonakilty Food Company coming on board to sponsor all our camogie teams from U13 up to senior,’ Carbery Camogie Chairperson Tony Coppinger told The Southern Star.
‘It is going to be another busy year for our adult panel. We also have two training (U13 and U15) panels back training and looking for some of those players to hopefully make it on to this year’s Cork underage inter-county teams.
‘Clonakilty Food Company are also sponsoring our Carbery U11, U13 and U15 club competitions during the summer months.
‘To get this sponsorship, from such a solid and well-known company, is a massive boost for camogie in West Cork. We feel that having Clonakilty Food Company backing us is a seal of approval for everything we are trying to achieve.’
As of 2022, there are close to 2,000 players registered to play camogie in the Carbery division. That’s an encouraging figure considering the wide geographical area involved. Camogie needs to remain a relevant sporting option because ladies football, rugby, rowing and many other sports are vying for schoolgirls and teenagers attention. Even more importantly, thanks to Clonakilty Food Company’s partnership, the pathway for young Carbery camogie players through the underage ranks to senior level remains feasible.
‘You have girls in national schools aged seven, eight or nine playing with their club and we want them to aspire to represent their division and possibly a Cork panel,’ Coppinger explained.
‘Basically, we want girls to realise, if they are good enough, then they can have an opportunity to play at senior level for the Carbery division in the Cork (senior) camogie championship.
‘That’s the ultimate goal but obviously there is a lot of work involved in making that happen on and off the pitch.’
Carbery will return to the divisional group of this year’s Cork senior Camogie championship off the back of an indifferent 2022 campaign. A heavy loss to eventual county champions Seandún, a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of Carrigdhoun and draw with Avondhu prevented Carbery from progressing to the knockout stages.
Carbery’s inability to field a team against Imokilly, due players club and dual commitments, was a reminder of the ongoing difficulties of dealing with an increasingly crowded sporting calendar.
‘The divisional section of the county championship gives everyone a chance to play one another,’ Coppinger explained.
‘Only one division goes through to the knockout stages. That’s been Seandún for the last number of years simply because they are so far ahead of everyone else. Fair play to them though.
‘Right now, they (Seandún) are just so strong with the number of inter-county players they have. There isn’t much between the other divisions to be honest with you.
‘It is a new (championship) format and only began last year. There are six divisions in the group so Carbery is guaranteed a minimum of five county senior games.
Before that, you were only playing two, maybe three games at most.
‘We would love to enter a Carbery team in the county league as well but you just can’t get commitment from the girls as they have college and are doing so many other things.’
Last year’s Carbery senior management team included Paul Crowley (manager), William McCarthy, Mary Sexton and Tony Coppinger (selectors). The 2023 backroom set-up is yet to be finalised.
Irrespective of who is in charge, Carbery will continue with the same diligent approach when it comes to representing their region.
‘We trained regularly last year and Sexton organised numerous challenge games for us which definitely helped bring the girls on,’ Coppinger said.
‘There was a challenge game every Monday night for an eight-week period. That suited the majority of our panel and we got to play some really good teams like Newcestown, St Finbarr’s, Carrigdhoun and Courcey Rovers.
‘Last year, between challenges and championships, Carbery would have fielded on 12 different occasions. It is tough enough getting a division together for one game so to have the panel playing that amount of fixtures was a real plus.
‘As for this coming year, you’d be hoping the seniors could go one step further and qualify from the county championship group stages. We played Seandún without some of our Cork players the first day out in 2022 so we’d prefer to face them a bit later this time around.
‘As nice as it is to go up to Castle Road, we’d also like the chance to play Seandún somewhere outside of the city and maybe even in West Cork.’