Hurling and camogie

Antrim camogie leagues growing in numbers

The Látharna Óg senior squad pictured at the Cliff at one of the two training sessions they managed to squeeze in before sport was closed down in October
Séamas McAleenan

THIS season three new clubs have entered the Antrim camogie leagues. They talked to Séamas McAleenan about their different set-ups and the season ahead. Today we meet up with the Látharna Óg and Davitt's clubs...

A NIGHT out with a few drinks among the girls was the catalyst for re-booting camogie in the Látharna Óg club according to club secretary Danielle Bergin.

“GAA activity in Larne had ceased around ten years ago and there was nothing happening until three years ago when the men got together and started hurling again.

“I think the girls could see that the men were enjoying it, even though they probably were losing more games than winning. It was about the social aspect as much as anything.

“It was kind of a spur of the moment decision for camogie. A few of us were on a night out and thought it would be a great idea to get out playing. We stuck a notice on the club facebook account and the response has been great.

“We have around 35-40 adults keen to play. Now there wouldn’t be too many that have much experience of actually playing camogie. But we are all up for the challenge.”

That happened towards the end of last summer and there was just enough time to get a couple of training sessions in before lockdown hit once more.

“It is a pity that all activity has been cut for the last six months. A few of the men are helping to coach us and getting us doing wall ball sessions on our own and then there are zoom classes for fitness and we are out running. All that is keeping morale up.”

Off the pitch too there has been a lot of preparation done so that they can hit the ground running when the green light is given.

“We have sorted sponsorship and have a new kit coming in the next couple of weeks and just a week or two ago we got a grant from Mid and East Antrim Council to buy equipment.

“We are well aware that we need to get underage coaching under way too and bring players through. So we are preparing ourselves to start with kids of primary age.”

The Látharna Óg grounds out on Bruston Braes lay idle for the best part of a decade. But now the new season should see plenty of activity as both hurling and camogie prepare to cross the lines.

DAVITT’S entry into the Antrim leagues has been more incremental according to Terry Parke who is chairman of the juvenile section of the west Belfast club.

“We haven’t had ladies’ games in Davitt’s for quite some time. There may have been a camogie team for a year or two 30 or 40 years ago.

“We had girls playing along with the boys up until under 12 and then some of them would continue their playing career with Gort na Móna or some other clubs around here.

“We opened the new playing facilities a couple of years ago and under age membership has been growing. Then I suppose Gaelfast gave it a boost as well.

“So this year we are entering an adult team and then teams from under 8 through to under 12. Chris McNally and Alan Rainey have been working hard getting structures in place at juvenile level and we have been playing go-games for the last couple of years now.”

Obviously the cost of camogie equipment as well as club membership can place a burden on a new team.

“We have managed to get a small grant from the council and we are offering helmets and hurls at a subsidised rate to our young players. We are fairly pro-active in seeking sponsorship and we try to make playing for our teams affordable.”

Parke has been a coach in the hurling end of the club for a number of years now and will continue with the under 17 hurlers while doubling up to take the under 12 camogie team.

“I find working with girls very rewarding in that they listen well and try to practise the skills. However I am obviously, like a lot of others in the club, double and treble-jobbing.

“We have 25 to 30 adult players there and we will be looking for a number of them to get involved with underage teams going forward. In fairness I think they will.

“Where would we like to be five years from now? Well, those under 12s will be coming through to the adult teams. So I would like to see us competitive at junior level with aspirations of getting up through the grades.”

** In tomorrow's Irish News, we visit the Camogs of St Gall's on the Fall's Road in Belfast ...

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Hurling and camogie