Hurling and camogie

New Antrim camogie chair looking to bright future for Saffrons

The Antrim camogs celebrate September's All-Ireland Intermediate Championship final victory over Kilkenny at Croke Park. Picture by INPHO
Neil Loughran

THE new chairman of the Antrim camogie board is aiming to build on the momentum within the county – and hopes the senior camogs could form part of Corrigan Park double-headers with the Saffrons’ high-flying hurlers in the near future.

Back in September Antrim defeated Kilkenny to claim the All-Ireland intermediate crown, earning them a crack at the senior ranks in 2022. And a week later the county’s minors moved up to the A championship after beating Offaly in a B final replay.

Liam Vallely came in as new chair at last month’s AGM, with a reconvened AGM taking place at St Enda’s this evening to add further new blood to the Antrim camogie board.

And Vallely insists the onus is on them to match the drive and ambition being shown on the field.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and expertise coming in to the camogie board,” he said.

“In the incoming year we have a team playing in the senior championship, which is a tremendous shop window, the minors are into the A championship. On the field we really are going places, so we’re trying to match that administratively.

“There’s a great band of people coming forward to help, and hopefully we can carry this momentum on. I’ve already made approaches to the ladies’ football association and to the GAA because we’re all feeding off the same plate, and we need to be co-operative. I’ve been met with very positive responses.

“We’ve been talking about working together over fixtures so we don’t clash. I have four daughters, I don’t want any of them having to choose one code over the other – they should be able to play both, that’s the bottom line.

“[Antrim ladies’ football chairperson] Shauna Adams was absolutely on the same page straight away, couldn’t agree more. A more collaborative approach will see us through this. If you look elsewhere in Antrim, it works for the men’s football and hurling, by and large they’re not pulling players in different directions.

“It can be done.”

Enquiries have also been made about the county’s centre of excellence at Dunsilly being used by camogie teams, in a bid to bring parity of esteem with the other codes in the county.

And Vallely hopes that might even extend to the big days at Corrigan Park once the inter-county season gets up and running again.

“In terms of Dunsilly, from what I’ve been told, we’re pushing at an open door.

“They would love to work with us, so we can get our senior teams in there training, on a par with the senior footballers and hurlers. It will be great when that comes to pass.

“I’ve also made an approach about the use of Corrigan for our senior games, again, on a par with the footballers and hurlers. They have asked us to provide our fixtures and they’ll do their best to work with us.

“That would be a real statement of intent. It might also be possible to facilitate a double-header of some description, with a Division One hurling game and a senior camogie game… you’d be giving extra value to the paying punters.

“The feedback I’ve got from players is they would be delighted to see that, and they deserve that recognition. It’s a long road and we have a lot of work to do, but I’m getting very positive feedback from all sides and it’s great to see.

“We’re hopeful that rising tide will raise all boats."

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Hurling and camogie