Ger McCarthy speaks with Libby Coppinger who – along with four other Cork dual players – faces the prospect of another season of ladies’ football and camogie inter-county fixture clashes
IT is hard to believe that the two associations tasked with organising ladies’ football and camogie inter-county games have put Libby Coppinger and some of her Cork team mates in another unfortunate and unwanted position.
Cork are scheduled to play Kerry in the All-Ireland LGFA championship on the first weekend of November. That is the same day Cork’s senior camogie team line out against Galway in the camogie championship (although Galway have sportingly offered to move the fixture). Additional football and camogie fixture clashes face Cork on November 14th and the weekend of November 28th.
Sadly, any hope of a common-sense approach in moving games 24 hours before or after clashing fixtures appears remote. That point of view was further underlined when the Camogie Association voted 76% in favour of defeating a motion to add a new rule in relation to the dual player at their annual congress this past weekend.
Libby Coppinger has been here before. Yet, the St Colum’s, West Cork and Cork player’s exasperation, frustration and despondency at being put in the middle of another fixtures spat is evident in the following interview.
Ger McCarthy: Libby, unfortunately, we are back again talking about an inter-county fixtures clash between the Ladies’ Football and Camogie associations. This not alone affects you, but Cork’s Fiona Keating, Hannah Looney, Ciara McCarthy and Meabh Cahalane as well. Are you surprised at this, really disappointed or both?
Libby Coppinger: I think it is bad that I am so surprised. Every year, we kept getting promised this and that and that it’s not going to happen again, but every year there seems to be (continuing) clashes. I’m a bit shocked I suppose but not too surprised when the news does come out.
I’m massively disappointed that it keeps happening. I’ve been playing at senior level for about four years and it has been an issue every single year. This goes back to so many players like Briege (Corkery) having to go through this, not just in Cork but all over the country. I know a lot more about the Cork side of things from being involved. Frustrated, I guess, is the right way to put it.
GMC: I don’t blame you. You and I have talked about this issue many times before and seem to be in a constant circle going around and around yet nothing is being resolved. We are coming out of Covid and you and the girls are looking forward to both the football and camogie inter-county championships. Now this?
Galway have since stepped in and offered to change the date of the camogie match, which is fantastic and very sporting of them. It really shouldn’t be down to Galway to be doing this.
LC: No (it shouldn’t) and, fair play to Galway, but I don’t think it has ever been a particular team or individuals that were against changing an inter-county start time. It always seems to be the (two) associations. They need to sort it out between themselves and have that communication.
I know Cork would never want to play another team that was down players because of a clash of fixtures or vice versa. I do think a lot more people are speaking out about it now.
You would be aware of the whole thing sometimes and asking ‘Am I making it more awkward for the girls on my team?’ Everyone backs us the whole time and that is always really encouraging. They always tell us that this isn’t fair. Everyone is putting in the time and we are committed to both teams so why should we have to choose?
This shouldn’t be the case when there is a clear solution of just moving the game(s)? We are not looking for anything incredible. Obviously, it is a tight schedule, but there is room to have inter-county games 24 hours apart. That solution just doesn’t seem to be something thought about at the minute between the associations.
GMC: As you said, one of the encouraging things to happen since this latest episode is that there seems to have been a bigger outcry than normal. You see the likes of Cora Staunton calling out the associations on social media stating girls should be encouraged to play as many sports as they want.
LB: It is the same issue for dual players all over the country. We shouldn’t be making an issue of clashing dates. If you are able to do it (play both sports) and everyone is backing you then why are the associations making it an issue by putting fixtures on the same day?
I do think it is really encouraging from my side that so many players are speaking out. Everyone is fed up with it. When I heard about it at the start of the week, I just said, people are going to be sick of us. All the bad news in the headlines again and about the same thing.
We, the players, hate it as much as anyone. It just needs to be sorted and just needs to be agreed that they (fixtures clashes) are not going to happen. Let’s move on from it and focus on the positives of our games and not the negatives.
GMC: I’ll ask you straight out. Do you think this is going to get sorted? Are you confident that these potential fixture clashes will be worked out?
LC: I suppose you are always hopeful that they (the two associations) are going to come to a realisation that it (fixture clashes) were never a good idea and rectify them. I don’t know. I have been around too long.
This happened before in 2017 when I was the only player involved at the time. A quarter-final and a semi-final on the same day. That year, we were told it was never going to happen again. Yet, here we are. So, I don’t know. I am always going to be hopeful.
This year has been so crazy and a lot of things have been out of our control, but this has such an easy solution. Literally, just moving games from one day to the other. I am still hoping because I never want to be put into a position where I have to choose between the two.
We love and enjoy playing so that’s why we put all our time into football and camogie. You never want to be making a choice and we won’t be making it. It can’t come down to that.