'He let the game flow really well' - Referee comes in for praise after thrilling All-Ireland camogie final
Dublin full-forward Aisling Maher has pointed to last weekend’s All-Ireland final as a perfect example of how the game should be officiated.
The 2017 All-Star is part of a steering group formed by the Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) that are working on steps to improve a game that has long been bedeviled with frustration around the rules and the lack of on-field contact allowed.
Those frustrations reached a crescendo after last year's decider between Cork and Kilkenny was practically reduced to a free-taking competition. This year’s edition was an altogether different affair, with the advantage rule used to great effect and both teams responded, providing the highest-scoring final in 30 years as Galway came out on top, notching 3-14 to Kilkenny’s 0-17.
"I think it was fantastic, particularly in comparison to the last two years which were very impressive tactically in a lot of ways but weren’t the exhibitions you want to put out to the general public," Maher told The Throw-In, Independent,ie’s GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy.
"I think Ray Kelly did a brilliant job in charge, he let the game flow really really well. It was nearly resembling a hurling match, which is the way most camogie players want to play it and the way we want people to see our game."
Although camogie is lagging behind the bigger ball in terms of the crowd that will be expected at HQ for the Ladies Gaelic football final next Sunday, Maher is confident that the right steps are being taken to close the gap between the two women's codes.
And while her own county hasn’t managed to build on their run to the semi-final that saw her secure her All-Star two years ago, the St Vincent’s player remains hopeful that they can return to challenge in the near future.
"I definitely think that the crowd can be increased to push up near Ladies Gaelic football numbers. We just need Dublin in a final and then everyone will be at it!" she laughed.
"We got back up to numbers that nearly hit the 25,000 mark which we haven’t been near for the last few years. I think it was 2004 that we last had 24,000 plus," she added.
"So (it was great) to break that record for a stand-alone camogie match and to put on a really exciting and exhilarating game to show exactly what camogie is and the direction which it’s going.
"Being able to put that exhibition out to the 25,000 that were there and everyone who was watching at home will be a really positive thing for camogie and hopefully will continue to drive our game forward."