Research has been completed by the WGPA on the views of adult intercounty Camogie players in 2019. Key findings around the areas of 1) Standards & Participation, 2) Playing Rules & Refereeing, and 3) Promotion have been collated and give a clear sense of the players’ current experiences and aspirations. Separately, an initial analysis on scoring and frees was carried out in an attempt to capture an additional understanding of the impact of standards, rules and refereeing on Camogie.

Click on the image below to download the full report.

Some of the key findings include:

  • 87% of players with a strong pride in Camogie with the words Skilful, Competitive and Fast most commonly used to describe their game.
  • 82% were in favour of trialling new rules in league competitions and 70% stated the rules on physical contact very much need a change. Players also responded to factors around refereeing, indicating a poor experience overall, with 60% rating the consistency of refereeing as poor.
  • Attendances, media engagement, visibility and positive commentary were identified as the most important factors in relation to enhancing the brand of camogie, with 95% in favour of double headers.

 

Players are, in general, positive about the game, particularly in observations about increasing playing standards over the last 15-20 years, and are committed to being involved in moving the game forward. The club game was identified as an important factor in driving playing standards, technical skills and participation, suggesting it requires further support and investment.

Support for rule changes, particularly around physical contact was apparent. There was a sense that the game was not keeping up with developments in player conditioning and technical ability. The analysis of All Ireland Finals displayed a change in how the game is manifesting. Identifying any causal link between this and refereeing or rules is premature but overall, there is an increase in scores from placed balls and a lower scoring rate overall in the last 18 years.

In relation to games promotion, players emphasised the role of attendances, visibility and social media engagement. Also, generating a clear message for Camogie, reflecting how the game is best portrayed and played is important, as well as determining how this message is received. Players are in favour of integration, likely viewing potential linkages with hurling, appreciating that they are two wonderful games but equally, hard to promote and hard to master. Both need a very specific, resourced approach to ensure they continue to thrive in strongholds and are promoted in all areas.

In response to the findings, 3 clear action points have been identified by the working group:

  1. Set up a player engagement group: with current and past players to discuss the findings and how they might be integrated into the new Camogie Development Plan, improve communication with the association and support measures to improve the brand.
  2. Commence a referee engagement process: engage all stakeholders in a discussion around the policing of the game, supported by an objective analysis of refereeing overall.
  3. Conduct a rules review: expand on initial statistical analysis in the report, including a broader set of championship games and a wider indicators such as playing styles. Develop an action plan on trialling new rules and making informed decisions around long term changes.

These actions will provide the forum for players to take an active role and with 99% of players willing to help move the game forward, we look forward to working with the association to develop Camogie further.

These sentiments were echoed by WGPA chair Maria Kinsella; “There has been a lot of discussion around rule changes and refereeing standards in Camogie over the past number of years. A proper objective analysis of the trends in the game and refereeing needs to be carried out because players currently don’t feel engaged through the current mechanism for changing rules. We welcome the motion passed at congress to allow the trialling of new rules but it now needs a proper plan in place in order to be effective.”

Speaking from a player perspective Gemma O’Connor of Cork Camogie said, “Players have been expressing frustration around rules and referees publicly for a long time and this now represents a collective call for change and an opportunity to improve the game. We as players, or the review group, don’t have all the answers but we are willing to support the process of finding them. We respect referees and the important work they do, we want to work with them to ensure the game is as enjoyable for players and spectators as it can be.”

A dedicated working group of players, with representatives from 12 counties, came together across several meetings to steer the engagement. The group included some of the leading figures in the game; Cork’s Gemma O’Connor, Kilkenny’s Anne Dalton, Tipperary’s Cait Devane, Limerick’s Niamh Mulcahy, Dublin’s Aisling Maher, Clare’s Chloe Morey, Waterford’s Niamh Rockett, Westmeath’s Denise McGrath and Kildare’s Siobhan Hurley. 243 players responded to the survey carried out in January 2019 from across all grades and counties.

The group has welcomed an initial player feedback forum organised by Camogie on Saturday as a step in the right direction, and hope to kickstart a process with all parties involved to work towards the actions raised in the report.

The results of the report are broadly summarised in the infographic below.

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