Latest Laois News: Laois Camogie Statement & Press Conference

Latest Laois News: Laois Camogie Statement & Press Conference

Laois Camogie seeks answers surrounding their placement in 2023 Intermediate Championship despite 2022 Relegation

As members of the Laois Camogie Executive, may we commence by thanking all of you who
have attended here this evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you on matters
and priorities relevant to us all in Laois Camogie. We intend to brief you on current and
future focused developments concerning camogie in Laois with our main priority on the
situation the Intermediate team find themselves in for the 2023 season. In that context, I look
forward to a positive engagement and hope to inform you on our attempts to promote the
sport and retain our players, who are our most valuable asset, here in Laois. In Camogie
terms we are a small but proud county. We have 10 clubs with just over 1700 members for
the 2022 season. We have experienced a 70% increase in our membership in the last eight
years. In 2022 we fielded three teams at U14 development, two teams at U15 development,
we won the Leinster & All Ireland B final at U16, and we were beaten finalists in the Minor
All Ireland. I think we can all agree that camogie in Laois is certainly going in the right

2022 – 1716, 2021 – 1706, 2020 – 1375, 2019 – 1540, 2018 – 1480, 2017 – 1326, 2016 –
1186, 2015 – 1019, 2014 – 1006

Powerful testimony from Laois players Aimee Collier and Jessie Quinlan.

At Intermediate Level, for various reasons, progress has been a mixture of success and some
failure over the recent past. In early January 2020 the executive made the difficult decision to
withdraw from the Intermediate Championship/All Competitions
Subsequent reporting in the National media included:

Laois will not field a camogie team in the All-Ireland Championship in 2020.

“The Laois Camogie Board cited the “unavailability of players” to form a panel to compete in
the Intermediate Championship this year. “Following an executive meeting held on Monday,
6th January 2020, it is with great regret that Laois Camogie are not in a position to field an
intermediate team for the 2020 competitions due to unavailability of players.” – report from
Irish Examiner 07 Jan 2020

Laois withdraw their camogie team from 2020 competitions – Newstalk Jan 2020

Laois unable to field camogie team in 2020 due to “Unavailability of players” – The 42
Jan 2020

“Laois left in chaos as camogie side is withdrawn from 2020 competitions due to
‘unavailability of players’ Irish Independent Jan 2020

Laois unable to field Camogie team in 2020 | GAA News – Sky News Ireland

Following major intervention from many stakeholders this position was reversed and we
fielded a team in the competition. Laois executive proved themselves to be invested in their
players and their sport and together with committed coaching crews were united in facing and
overcoming the many unprecedented challenges that were presented in the years since. (low
numbers, forfeiture of game, loss of grant money, interview and appointment of three
different mgt teams which subsequently did not take job or stood down)

Despite the very real challenges of a critical shortage of players, players who had mid-week
commitments in second level and third level education and at weekends they were hampered
perhaps by working part-time to fund their college courses. I acknowledge this is felt and
experienced by many counties but with a very low starting base it was felt more acutely by
Laois. Low numbers at training in 2020, 2021 and early 2022 had a negative impact on the
management and coaching team who were in place and despite everyone’s best efforts, there
was a high turnover in these positions. In 2022 former player Niamh Dollard assisted by
Chris Murphy and Noel Brennan took the helm and steadied the ship. The existing players
were empowered to turn up. However, Laois lost all round games in the All Ireland series and
lost the relegation final V Kildare after extra time. I’ll come back to this point in a moment.

The future structures and capabilities of Laois camogie will depend upon the opportunity to
build again from the bottom up. The consistent high numbers at underage development level
is a visible demonstration of Laois’ commitment to our members and to our sport.

Reflecting on challenges in the coaching space over the past number of years, succession
planning is underway with the retention of coaches as well as players a focus of our
development officer. This year so far we have very healthy numbers of qualified coaches
across U14, U15, U16 Minor and Intermediate, some of whom have been coaching Laois
County and Club teams the last number of years. This continuity in itself acts as a retention
tool for young players who are comfortable in the knowledge that the coaching teams in the
most part are known to them.

Big win for Laois Camogie as a battling win over Tipperary keeps their championship dream alive
Is it a level playing field for Laois Camogie compared to the other counties?

Laois are immensely proud of the role that we play in the lives of our young players and we
demonstrate in a very real and tangible way, the value and benefit that consistent,
professional coaching brings to the retention of players especially of those in their mid-teens.
An example of this is fielding two U16 Leinster championship teams in 2023. Our focus is
not about winning titles though when earned are very welcome but our overall intent is to
empower young girls to improve themselves, to be a leader, to be a warrior, to respect the
team, the opposition, the officials and themselves. To contribute to their club, their
community, and their schools and be the best ambassadors they can be for our sport, the sport
of camogie.

Following the loss of the relegation final in 2022, while disappointed, the Executive set to
work for the next season and the priority was to secure a management and coaching team
while retaining the current bunch of players to rebuild in the Junior Competition.

Basic definition of relegation in sport is: “In a system of promotion and relegation, the best-
ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season,
and the worst-ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the
next season.

Despite what we feel are our best efforts to communicate with Leinster and National
Camogie Association executive to ascertain why Laois remained in Intermediate
classification, we feel our efforts to date have been met with lack of full disclosure and
indeed a tardiness in replying which has had the result of Laois carrying on playing and
losing all games to date in the Intermediate competition in 2023. Player and management
engagement is frustrating for us as we have no clarity on the reasons for what we feel is a
very unfair position that they have been placed in.

2023 Laois Minor Camogie panel

Our priority and focus for this evenings meeting is to request the following:

  1. Clarity: How the decision was reached to retain Laois in the Intermediate
    competition having lost a relegation final?
  2. Communication: Why Laois camogie were not informed, in advance of fixtures
    being issued, of the decision to be kept at Intermediate?
  3. Commitment: What assurances can be provided by the Camogie Association that
    more stakeholder engagement will be conducted on what was a very significant
    decision affecting Laois camogie?

Before we conclude, it is important for us to state and acknowledge the extremely positive
and collaborative relationship we enjoy in the most part with provincial and national
executive members. We are extremely proud of our contribution to our sport, which offers us
an opportunity to increase the awareness and promotion of the game of camogie, while also
reinforcing our identity and heritage. Such efforts, including our recent participation at St
Patricks Day parades all over the County have demonstrated that Laois Camogie have the
best interests of our players, our members and our sport at the centre of all our efforts.

I thank those present for giving us the opportunity to address the room and we are happy to
take any questions that you may have.

Go raimh maith agaibh.