Saturday 1 October 2016

Sinead Kissane: Time camogie chiefs ruled with the head - not with heads or tails

Published 30/07/2015 | 02:30

The 'coin-toss' option was the last resort after goals scored and points difference
The 'coin-toss' option was the last resort after goals scored and points difference

Is there a better way than a coin toss to decide who should play in a quarter-final of the All-Ireland Camogie Championship?

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Sure there is. What about paper, scissors, rock between a Clare and Dublin player? That would drag out the drama and tension a bit longer than just the flick of a coin, wouldn't it? It would be viewer-friendly too. With maybe 'The Hunger Games' soundtrack on loop in the background and ringside seats for anyone who's into that kind of thing.

Or what about a staring competition between the players? See who blinks first. It could be jazzed up with player cams and the pre-match chat would be about what kind of eye-games the players would play.

And after, we would have a big laugh about it all and slap each other on the backs and wonder who thought sport should ever be decided on the pitch. Ha.

Because that's what this is. A joke.

This story of #cointoss is not really about comparing women's sports with men's sports and the sighs of "this would never happen in a man's game".

This isn't about trying to pick holes to see what we could swallow and spit out as 'sexism!'

This isn't even about the Camogie Association being a separate entity despite the obvious and long-stated need for camogie and women's Gaelic football to come under the GAA organisation.

This is about how the hell it happened that a group of people sat down and decided that a coin-toss (or more specifically the drawing of lots) would be the best and most sensible course of action to resort to in the event that two teams finished level on points.

This is about a sport which has one hand raised looking for as much publicity and attention as it can get while the other hand is happily shooting itself in the foot with a rule like this.

And even though the 'coin-toss' option was the last resort after goals scored and points difference, it was still in the rule-book. And sport has an uncanny way of always finding even the most ridiculous of rules.

But this story is also about communication. The Camogie Association needed to find a way to help with fixture congestion as there were 11 play-offs last year.

The camogie boards of each county were consulted on two occasions about this rule change last autumn before it was carried by the Ard Chomhairle.

At their congress in March earlier this year, delegates voted for the removal of play-offs for this season. Where was the uproar then?

Why weren't management and players fully informed and reminded by their county boards about this rule change? Why are players always the last to know?

And remember them - the players?

This story turned into one about women in camogie being forced to stand up for themselves.

There was no John Delaney-esque "can we be the 33rd team" type of ridiculous request. They made it clear how they felt about the coin toss and after months of gut-busting work they made a stand.

This blame game has a solution. Delete this rule in the autumn.

And next time rule with the head. Not by heads or tails.

Irish Independent

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