PAUDIE Murray wants better protection for his players ahead of a Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final showdown with Clare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.
The Cork manager is concerned with some of the treatment being dished out to the likes of Amy O’Connor and others heading towards the business end of this year’s All-Ireland championship.
‘The treatment that is being dished out to Amy O’Connor is disgraceful at the moment,’ Murray told The Southern Star.
‘I think that referees should be there to protect the likes of these special talents. People come out to watch camogie to see the Amy O’Connors, but the way she has been chopped down over the last two games, I believe stronger action has to be taken.
‘It is fine to be able to pull someone down but when someone comes in and chops down across her hands with their hurley? To me, that’s a red card, but it has happened two or three times now.
‘We certainly weren’t very happy with the way the Galway game was refereed. You’d be hoping that you get more experienced referees in the upcoming games, starting with Clare.’
Cork head into Saturday’s meeting with the Banner eager to rebound from last weekend’s defeat to Galway. The reigning All-Ireland champions edged Paudie Murray’s side by three points despite a gutsy Cork showing in Pearse Stadium.
That outcome meant Cork must now overcome Munster rivals Clare to keep their All-Ireland championship hopes alive. Despite the Group 1 loss to Galway, Murray was able to take plenty of positives from his team’s display.
‘The players’ attitude and work rate were two key things for me,’ Murray said.
‘Look, you are going up to play the All-Ireland champions, a team expected to win it again this year. So, to lose by three after missing an early penalty and conceding four points from sideline cuts – something I’ve rarely seen during all my time involved with camogie – all in all, there were reasons to be positive after it.’
Thankfully, Cork’s preparations should be eased somewhat by not having to negotiate an arduous cross-country car journey or dealing with any additional injuries.
‘Injuries have killed us, there is no doubt about that, and we are probably in a race against time for this weekend with some players,’ Murray added.
‘It is something (injuries) we are fighting the whole time, so you’d like them to clear up and have a clear run at it. Having football in the middle of it is not easy for the girls either.
‘Obviously, last weekend’s journey was a long one and everyone had to travel separately. Some of us travelled for over four and a half hours so all those things add up and it wasn’t easy, no.’
Cork’s opponents in the last eight finished second in their qualifying group following a 0-20 to 1-8 loss to Tipperary and a morale-boosting 1-18 to 1-7 victory over Dublin. Manager Ger O’Connell oversaw that impressive defeat of the Dubs with player of the match Niamh O’Dea outstanding at centre-back and Mairéad Scanlan netting the winning side’s goal.
Paudie Murray is not underestimating the challenge a Clare team with nothing to lose will pose. Having the game played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a welcome bonus and another important step for camogie within the county.
‘First of all, from the Camogie Association’s point of view, I think it is a massive thing they have done in securing Páirc Uí Chaoimh for this weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-final,’ the Cork senior camogie manager stated.
‘We played there in February of this year and I would certainly say that it is the best playing surface in Ireland. I’d put it ahead of Croke Park.
‘You can see the way it has held up over the past two weeks despite the huge amount of rain that has fallen. The surface is magnificent. It is a great boost for us to play there and we should use it to our advantage.
‘The key thing for us will be the referee on Saturday as I don’t think we got the rub of the green in either of our first two championship games.’
Cork GAA is on a high following last weekend’s men’s and women’s results. Paudie Murray isn’t getting carried away and remains focused on what his team needs to do to reach the last four of the All-Ireland.
‘Our goal is to get into an All-Ireland semi-final, no different to the Cork hurlers or footballers and the ladies’ footballers,’ commented Murray.
‘It is a winner-take-all game next Saturday so it is important that we perform. If we win, we win, if we don’t, we are out of the championship.
‘We are around long enough to know that if we bring the level of intensity that we brought against Galway, we have a chance.’