Tuesday 18 June 2019

Camogie is now a game of free-takers - O'Connor

Cork's Amy O'Connor. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Amy O'Connor. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Cork star Amy O'Connor is frustrated that camogie is "turning into a game of free-takers" and called for rule changes before the small ball slips further behind their football counterparts.

While Cork have claimed back-to-back All-Ireland senior crowns with successive final defeats of Kilkenny, O'Connor is exasperated with the direction the game is taking as many of the sport's biggest hitters adopt an ultra-defensive approach.

No goals have been scored in the last two deciders between Paudie Murray's Cork and Ann Downey's Cats, with the threat of livewire attackers like O'Connor nullified when outnumbered by extra defenders, much to her annoyance.

"The games aren't exactly classics which is very frustrating and I know if I was watching the All-Ireland final at home, I'd probably have turned it off.

"There are so many frees, I'd like to see the rules changed because at the moment camogie is a game of free-takers," the 22-year-old pharmacy student said.

"Whoever has the best free-taker wins. It's terrible - the majority of scores are from frees. I don't blame the referees at all, they're only doing their job. The rules are the problem. It's so frustrating, especially as a forward because you get the ball and you're fouled every time.

"I know everyone wants to win. If it takes 15 behind the ball you'll do it but that's why the game is not getting the same attendances that ladies football is. Something needs to be done to promote it more, to make it more exciting.

"The games being televised are the ones they shouldn't be watching because they're terribly negative. I haven't watched last year's All-Ireland final back and I normally would."

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O'Connor - who played in an Irish U-19 soccer side which reached the 2014 European Championships semi-finals when playing alongside the likes of Sarah Rowe and Katie McCabe - feels immediate change is necessary.

"The advantage rule definitely needs to be looked at, there's huge inconsistency, especially come championship time. You're nearly looking at who's the referee first because you'll need to tailor your game to them," the four-time All-Ireland winner said.

"That's the way it's gone. If they let a shoulder go, they're slated but players are happy with contact. We're all in the gym, we do just as much gym and training as the men and I just think, 'give us a break'."

O'Connor and Cork open their Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League campaign against Tipperary tomorrow with several of last year's All-Ireland intermediate winners expected to step up to the senior ranks and feature in a repeat of last year's All-Ireland semi-final clash.

Cork are without a league crown since 2013 as Kilkenny bid for four in a row, so no doubt there will be plenty of intense battles over the coming weeks and months as they look to rectify that.

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