In light of all the international success of the Irish senior rugby team, the Badger feels our own national games are being overlooked in recent weeks. Besides the weather related reorganisation of fixtures and the impact this will have on the upcoming season, not many incidents are grabbing the GAA news headlines quite like the ‘dual-status dilemma.’
UCC camogie and Cork GAA’s recent war with words is the latest chapter in the GAA’s schism between codes. Three players were involved in this managerial tug-of-war resulting in UCC lining out for their O’Connor Cup (Gaelic football) semi-final without Hannah Looney and Méabh Cahalane, both of whom played in their county’s Camogie Division 1 semi-final the following day. Libby Coppinger, the third player involved in both squads, and as a result the fracas, played for the UCC side that lost to UL and subsequently made no appearance in Cork’s semi-final against Limerick. The popular Cork radio station, Red FM, provided a platform for both managers to make statements about the situation. Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray was under the impression that the three players’ college scholarships would be in danger if they didn’t represent their college side and UCC manager claimed that the players had been threatened that they “would never play for Cork camogie again if they togged out for UCC” on that particular weekend. Much finger-pointing, hearsay and double hearsay later, tensions in the Rebel county are frayed and the Badger considers both managers publicly airing their dirty laundry to be the immature actions of people in high-pressure positions which is unfair on both squads in question. The increasing physical demands and time commitments of both the footballing and hurling/camogie schedules is tough enough on the players without the managers’ handbags.
The Badger considers representing your county as one the pinnacles of any GAA player’s sporting career, but also believes that scholarships represent a college’s invested interest in the player. Nobody wants to be forced to choose and giving up one of your favourite sports might be one sacrifice too many. Cork has a long-established history of success on both fronts at inter-county level and as more counties start to enjoy success in both arenas, more players are finding themselves caught in the middle. UCD’s Con O’Callaghan missed the opening rounds of the Sigerson Cup because of club hurling commitments, Tipperary’s Stephen O’Brien doesn’t seem to want to pick between either sport and many other intercounty dual-status players are finding it difficult to balance the year-round schedules of both sports. With the inflation of participation in both sports at this high level, tensions within the GAA could cascade to Rule 42 levels. The Badger fears Ireland might not be big enough for hurling and football.