Camogie All-Stars trip another step towards putting women's sport in the national eye
The Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars will go on tour for the first time this month when both the 2016 and 2017 All-Stars head to Madrid to play each other in an exhibition match in the Spanish capital.
The tour, which will take place from 29 November until 2 December, will see two teams comprising of the winning senior All-Stars from both the 2016 and 2017 Awards ceremonies play each other in an exhibition match scheduled to be played at the Complutense University of Madrid.
The trip mirrors similar tours already taken by the GAA/GPA All Stars, who travelled to Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year for their football tour, with the full touring squad to be confirmed at the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars launch in Dublin next week.
Deirdre Ashe, Director of Personal Lines at Liberty Insurance, said that it was important to recognise the players’ contributions to the sport but also their status as role models within their communities and clubs.
"It’s important for us in Liberty Insurance to continue to raise the profile & awareness of women in sport," said Ashe.
"It’s a privilege to sponsor the Camogie All Star Awards which celebrate the achievements of the sport’s finest athletes, and which complements our broader sponsorship of the Camogie Championship every summer.
"It’s really exciting too in that the first ever Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Tour takes place later this month to Madrid, building on our commitment to women in sport. The tour provides an international perspective to the sport, and is an opportunity to showcase the game to new audiences in Europe.
"Both the awards and the tour recognise and celebrate the achievements of the country’s finest Camogie players. Each of the players are role models for young women throughout the country by their actions and deeds on and off the field of play and we’re really excited to be travelling to Spain in a few weeks’ time."
Camogie Association CEO Joan O’ Flynn is hoping that the trip will not only celebrate the achievements of some of the sport’s finest players, but that it may also help cultivate a Camogie club in Madrid.
“First and foremost it’s a player’s trip to celebrate, acknowledge and thank players for what they give to us in terms of demonstrating the sport’s qualities at the highest standard,” said O’ Flynn.
“It’s very much a reward and recognition for those players but we would also intend to follow through in Madrid with the opportunity to introduce the game to Irish people in Madrid and also the locals as well.
“We would hope that there would be enough interest to establish a Camogie club in Madrid which would then join other Camogie clubs across Europe.”
It’s been a good couple of years for the Camogie Association. There was a 5% increase in individual membership registrations from 2015 to 2016, up 10% from 2014.
20,438 fans attended the 2017 All-Ireland final between Cork and Kilkenny as Cork’s Julia White sealed the Rebelettes’ third title in the last four years with a match winning point in the seventh minute of stoppage-time.
Cork’s one-point win over the Cats cemented Paudie Murray’s side as one of the greatest teams in Camogie history, but the 20,438 fans that turned up for the final built on the previous year’s crowd of 20,037 at Croke Park, up almost 25% on the 2015 final and nearly 34% on 2012’s final.
As well as an increase in attendance, the finals also attracted an increased television audience which saw 328,000 viewers tuning in at its peak for the senior final which was broadcast live on RTÉ One.
This figure represented an increase of 23,000 on the peak of 305,000 viewers who tuned in for the 2015 finals. In 2016, an average of 216,400 viewers tuned into the live coverage of both the intermediate and senior final, which represented a 26% share of the market.
And with giant strides made on home soil, the Camogie Association are looking to expand their reach internationally as part of their four-year National Development Plan with teams from Britain, Europe, USA, New York, Canada, the Middle East and Australasia represented at the Etihad Airways GAA World Games held in Dublin last summer.
Time will tell if there will be a Spanish team at the next World Games, and if this upcoming trip will in any way help influence that process, but we do know that this All-Stars trip is another small step forward for women’s sport in the national eye.