CARBERY’S return to the SE Systems Cork senior camogie championship is a welcome boost for all camogie players in the West Cork region.
The Carbery divisional side’s 2-11 to 1-2 victory over Muskerry last Saturday week in the opening round of this year’s senior camogie championship was achieved without the services of the Enniskeane or Newcestown representatives. The former gained promotion to the county’s top tier last season, a year after Newcestown also became a senior club.
Enniskeane and Newcestown’s consecutive promotions were welcome developments but also represented a considerable exodus of experienced and talented players from Carbery’s divisional panel.
Having opted out of the 2020 championship, a new-look Carbery divisional camogie team made up for last year’s absence by inflicting a heavy defeat on Muskerry.
That victory was achieved by utilising players from the Ballinascarthy, Barryroe, Clonakilty, Kilbrittain-Timoleague and St Colum’s clubs. The West Cork panel was not short inter-county experience either with Cork seniors Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s) and Moira Barrett (Ballinascarthy) plus a host of up-and-coming underage talent amongst those who lined out during the 12-point win.
Add in the welcome support of Rowa/Rowex Pharmaceuticals Ltd, who kindly sponsored the Carbery senior players new squad tops and goodie bags, and it has been a positive couple of weeks for camogie in the rural region.
But despite that opening round senior championship victory, no one in the Carbery camogie management team or squad is losing the run of themselves, least of all manager Jerry Ryan. Right now, the significance of fielding a competitive Carbery team at club senior level is far more important than results, good bad or indifferent.
‘It was nice to win and to give a lot of young girls their first experience of a camogie senior county championship victory but we are certainly not getting carried away with the result,’ Ryan said.
‘I wouldn’t be getting carried away with it as Muskerry were missing most of their regular team the last day. We won’t really know where Carbery are at until our next game and even then, it will depend on who is available to play for us on the day itself.
‘It is nearly impossible to measure the importance of being able to field a Carbery divisional team in the senior championship. A lot of the girls that togged out the last day would have represented Cork at underage inter-county level but playing for Carbery is a great opportunity to test themselves on the senior club stage.
‘It is not a step beyond any of Carbery’s players and just a question of getting their heads around the speed and intensity of games at this level. Once they do that, they realise that senior isn’t above their capabilities.’
Carbery will not be in the running for this year’s Cork senior camogie title but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth investing time and effort into the project. The experience gained at competing in the top club tier is being brought back to their respective clubs by Carbery’s players.
As with their Carbery GAA counterparts, Jerry Ryan and his management team face a tricky task in gaining access to their squad members, such are the club and inter-county demands of the modern camogie player.
‘Playing for Carbery gives girls the stage to perform if they want to progress beyond the Cork underage inter-county set-ups,’ Jerry Ryan said.
‘Playing in the senior championship also gives Carbery players an opportunity to impress watching Cork intermediate and senior selectors. The same opportunity exists with the various colleges and third level universities but for girls from smaller, more rural clubs, representing Carbery gives them a chance to show what they can do in a highly competitive environment.
‘There are difficulties, too. There is such a heavy demand on talented girls who play camogie and ladies football as well as other sports right now. Both championships have started up which means coaches are fighting to get the girls out playing for whatever codes they are involved in.
‘That’s why, sometimes, it is nearly an impossible task to get girls released to play for Carbery. There were players involved in the win over Muskerry who had to tog out for their clubs the following day. Other couldn’t play for us because they were playing the same day as the Muskerry game while others just weren’t released because of Cork LGFA county championship commitments.’
Jerry Ryan’s point is an important one. More communication is needed between ladies’ football and camogie county boards as well as local clubs when it comes to managing players’ individual workloads. Right now, Carbery has a terrific chance to re-establish itself in the senior camogie county championship but only if they have access to their players.