CATHERINE MCGOURTY: The advantages of playing at home

1930 – Uruguay, 1934 – Italy, 1966 – England, 1974 – West Germany, 1978 – Argentina, 1998 – France. I think anyone reading this piece that is interested in sport will recognise that the years identified are World Cup years and the winners from the competition in that year.

What I also find interesting is that each team that won also hosted the tournament! So was this an advantage? If you look at the list of winners and hosts of each World Cup Competition, there generally does look to be a trend. When the tournament has been hosted in America (North or South) a South American team has generally been victorious, meanwhile when the competition was hosted by a European team they have come away as the winners.

You even just have to look at Japan’s performances in the last Rugby World Cup. Coming from really nowhere in the world rugby rankings to beat Ireland who at that time were top of the pile. I guess what I am trying to say is that the closer to home you play you tend to have an advantage!

So what does this have to do with the GAA Camogie Association LGFA?

Well firstly we all know that Croke Park is in Dublin, however, it technically is supposed to be a neutral venue for all teams. However, if Dublin play all of their games there and use it as their “home” venue for league they are more used to playing there.

They are more used to the surface and the surrounding so do they have an advantage when it comes to an All-Ireland semi-finalfinal that is supposed to be played at a neutral venue? Why do they not play their home games in their county ground at Parnell Park?

Studies have shown that teams who play at home do have an advantage. This is generally thought to be for a variety of reasons.

Home teams tend to have more support at their games. Generally, home supporters will cheer on their own team in a positive manor and may well be more “hostile” to the travelling team. This can clearly have a positive psychological effect on the home team and a negative effect on the away side.

Home teams also find it easier to ensure their routines of practice and rest and match day are consistent while visiting performers must travel long distances to compete, meaning they are working to schedules, with the chance of disruption much higher, and so preparation for competition affected.

Our last game this year for the Down camogs was a home game against Offaly. Perhaps if the result had been different I would not have voiced my opinion about this but as we won this is not written with the taste of ‘sour grapes’.

The Down County Board were asked to notify the Camogie Association of their chosen venue. Earlier in the year we probably had our best championship performance with a draw against Antrim at McKenna Park in Ballycran. The management and County Board requested that the game against Offaly would also be played there. However, the Camogie Association came back and refused this request. Why did the Camogie Association even ask Down where they wanted to play the game?

On the same weekend Antrim were to play Limerick in what would be a quarter-final decider. Antrim had played all of their home games until then in Dunloy. However, this game was played in Corrigan Park. From talking to few people involved with Antrim camogie, they also could not understand this decision especially when over 90 per cent of their players were from North Antrim. Limerick ended up pipping Antrim at the post that day and was the venue possibly a contributing factor?

When Down were competing in the Premier Junior competition we often played Laois. Each time we played them away we played in Rathdowney. The venue furthest away from Down, right on the LaoisTipperary border. I have absolutely no problem with that decision because for me if it is your home game you have the right to declare where the game will be played. What I wonder is whether Kilkenny, Galway, Cork or any other county ever been asked to find a different venue?

Thankfully for Down we came away with a great victory to maintain our Senior status for a third consecutive year.

What I must say is a massive thank you to Liatriom Fontenoys for the use of their fantastic pitch and facilities and to all other clubs and people who supported us over the year.

As we see the All-Ireland camogie finals approach on August 7 I wish former team mate Sorcha McCartan – now playing for Cork the best of luck in the senior final and also good luck to the Armagh and Antrim teams that play each other in the premier junior final.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW