‘I’m just delighted the Camogie Association listened to the players’ voice’

DUBLIN CAMOGIE PLAYER Leah Butler has backed the Camogie Association’s decision to opt for a split season after their initial schedule drew strong criticism. 

The threat of strike action prompted the organisation into a rethink and following a nationwide poll of clubs, a small majority backed a demarcation between the club and county seasons. 

53% of clubs voted in favour of the split season, with 47% voting for the initial model which would have seen the National League and All-Ireland championship take place either side of club championships. 

Dublin midfielder Butler admitted she was surprised the saga dragged on for so long.

“The GAA announced quite a while ago now that they were going with the split season, so to get the structure that we got, I was kind of surprised,” she said.

“But I’m happy now that they back-tracked and the decision got changed because I think it suits inter-county players to have the split season, to have a defined county season and a defined club season.

“As well, a lot of players play dual, they play football for their club as well as camogie. So they wouldn’t have been able to play their games in the opposite code, if they were playing championship with county and club championship [at the same time].

“It has worked out in the end. And I’m just delighted the Camogie Association listened to the players’ voice. I think a lot of people are happy now.

“I was a little bit surprised [the vote] was close, but a win is a win for Option 2 with the split season.”

A GPA poll of the camogie inter-county playing body saw 82% vote in favour of a split season, which led to the Camogie Association reviewing their initial decision.

“The Camogie Association, they were considering all players, not just inter-county players,” said Butler. “Obviously there’s tens of thousands more club players than there is inter-county players.

“So that’s where their decision came from. But it was surprising their decision was different to the three other codes. That’s just the way it went. But I’m glad it’s reversed now.”

The Cork camogie side indicated they were prepared to strike for the opening round of the league this weekend if the issues around structure were not resolved.

Asked if her team came close to announcing strike action, she said: “Not for us in the Dublin team anyway. I know Cork were talking a lot about it. I think if we had to go there, we would have.

“But it would have been a huge group decision, between maybe the inter-county managers would have come together, or the player reps or whoever. I don’t think that one county might have striked on their own, but if it would have happened, it would have been a full inter-county decision.”

Dublin take on Kilkenny in the opening round of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League on Saturday. Butler says the group didn’t take their eye off the ball despite the uncertainty of recent weeks.

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“We remained focus on our game this weekend against Kilkenny. We obviously were aware of what was going on. But this game is going to be huge for us.

“So we were focused on that, and we kind of left all the work to the WGPA then with the Camogie Association, with regards to reversing the decision.”

Of new Dublin manager Adrian O’Sullivan, she stated: “We’ve had a good start. Our first two months was through Zoom and online. We put in a lot of groundwork before we did go back training and now we are flat out.

“We have a great management team. Adrian has brought this huge, positive atmosphere to the team and training has been really, really enjoyable.” 

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