I attended the launch of the 2018 Liberty Insurance Camogie Championship launch when it was announced that Liberty and the Camogie Association had signed an extension to the current partnership with a figure of €2.3m investment.
Since coming on board in 2013 there is no doubt that there has been an increase in the media coverage and overall attendances of the sport.
The live showing of all knock out games on RTE is another boost and hopefully this year will see further growth with players taking centre stage and more double headers along with the hurling championship.
This year’s championships for Camogie looks set to be another exciting one with competitive games at senior, intermediate and junior level.
At senior level we have the Cork Kilkenny rivalry of recent years and it is highly likely that one of these teams will be victorious again.
Last year’s final was won in dramatic fashion when Cork emerged as winners by the minimum of margins after two late points from Gemma O’Connor and Julia White.
Cork will be without the services of Rena Buckley who has retired as the most decorated player in the history of the GAA, players such as Rena are indispensable to a team not just because of their performances on the field but because of the standards they set for everyone else around them.
Cork still have leaders in Orla Cotter, Gemma O’Connor and Aoife Murray but Kilkenny won’t fear them and a one point defeat is huge motivation for any team.
Outside of those two, the only team that I feel are genuinely capable of winning are Galway. For me Galway have always underachieved and should definitely have more than one All Ireland win in the last ten years, they have regularly contested but always seem to come up short which would lead to you believe that it may be more of a mental block that a physical one.
In the intermediate All Ireland, last year’s beaten finalists Cork will be there or there about, they were beaten in a replay by Meath and contested this year’s League 2 final which shows that they have the appetite to go again.
Derry will be pushing to reach the final this year and with the calibre of the players that they have and being backboned by the Slaughtneil girls then they could go well.
My own team Down have the players to do well and on their day are a match for anyone, we have progressed as the year as went on and with continual improvement we will fear no one on our day. Last year we drew with Meath in Meath so we know the potential is there.
Antrim have the players to do well and I would imagine they have earmarked a final appearance as their target for the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one Ulster side in this year’s decider.
Armagh are the representatives in the Junior All Ireland and despite having transferred to Eglish a number of years ago they still have the talented Donnelly sisters in their squad.
We played Armagh last Sunday and I was surprised to see a number of girls not on the panel including Granemore’s Grainne Kelly. If Armagh have everyone fit then they should challenge for the title but my favourites for the Premier Junior are Westmeath who I was very impressed with in the league.
All in all a brilliant championship looks in store for Camogie, I hope to see a few Ulster teams from both codes competing for honours in September.
A quick shout out to the Down Senior Camogie team in the Ulster Finals this weekend. Hopefully it will be a good weekend for the red and black.