THE manager of the Dublin minor ladies football team whose petition to reinstate their Leinster championship has attracted close to 8,000 signatures says they could play off the remaining rounds in just a week if permitted.
Anthony Cooke, who stressed that the petition was a player-driven initiative, said that the squad had accepted their fate until the Leinster camogie board indicated their intention to run off their minor championship.
The Dublin men’s minor footballers will also compete for provincial and All-Ireland honours this year.
Cooke's team had already played one game of the provincial campaign when sport in Ireland shut down back in March.
Cooke explained that the players initially had "accepted the decision", due to the unique circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Everyone understood it was a difficult situation," he said.
"But where the frustration started to build was, they all have friends who play on the minor men’s team and that’s going ahead.
"And then the camogie board came out and said they would be playing the provincial championships, even though they’re cancelling the All-Ireland series."
The issue is complicated due to the number of minor ladies footballers also playing at the senior age grade, where both the inter-county and club championships have been rescheduled in an already-cluttered window.
"I don’t think it should be prioritised over club," Cooke stated.
"All these girls are playing club as well. You’re not going to prioritise 30 girls playing inter-county over 600 or 700 playing club.
"But it’s the fact that the camogie side are trying to run something. And the men’s side of things are going to run something."
"A lot of these girls are looking at trying to get scholarships into colleges, too," he went on.
"And those scholarships are incredibly competitive.
"If you look at DCU, they have four or five ladies teams. The entire first team are on scholarships and half the second team are as well.
"So it’s a very competitive environment. And it will influence the universities, the fact that they haven’t had a chance to see too much of them."
The squad, most of whom have been together since Under-14 level, have been training "three or four nights a week" since late September.
Cooke conceded that the All-Ireland championship was unlikely to happen, particularly with the other three provincial councils mulling over whether to proceed with their competitions.
He also said the attempt to reinstate the championship wasn’t driven by any deep competitive desire, rather the players’ wish not to see all their hard work wasted.
"We’re not looking for a big run-in, where we’d train for a month before we’d play," he outlined.
"There’s only two group games left and then there’s a final.
"You could nearly run it off in a week if you played it weekend, mid-week and weekend. I know there’s a lot of logistics involved in inter-county games, so it’s not just that simple.
"But we’re not talking about a huge number of games here."
At the time of writing, the petition had close to 8,000 signatories, despite only going online last week.
In a statement on the petition’s homepage, the team explained how they had "missed many occasions and celebrations with family and friends due to our hard work and commitment to our county, we were willing to do so as we were determined to win a Leinster title."
It added: "as players we are heartbroken as we feel like our hard work and commitment we put in while the majority of us were studying for the leaving cert was for nothing."