I’m from Athleague. It’s 10 minutes outside Roscommon town. My father is a farmer, so we have sheep, cattle and a few hens as well. I play with Athleague Camogie Club and with the county as well. I play football with the club too, St Ciarán’s.
I think I started playing camogie around the age of four or five because my mam is very involved in the camogie club, which is probably why I’m so involved as well. I’m the PRO now.
Off the pitch, especially with mam being involved, you see the work that goes on behind the scenes. The commitment from non-players as well as players is huge. It really opens up your eyes to volunteer work in general.
A Hurl for Every Girl
Competition wise, the club is doing well. Championship is starting at the end of August, so we’re hoping to get another title under our belt. We won the senior county title last year.
Number wise though we’re struggling a bit with the underage. The campaign idea really came from our main sponsor, Ward & Burke Construction. Michael Ward would be the main driving force behind the campaign.
He approached the club executive about there being very few numbers coming up through the underage. To grow the club we really need to raise those numbers and get them in as young as we can to develop their skills. So we came up with the A Hurl for Every Girl campaign.
In the catchment area for the club there are 161 girls attending four primary schools in Creggs, Fuerty, Athleague and Ballymurray. We decided to supply each of these girls, from junior infants to sixth class, with a hurl and a sliotar. We’ve been delivering all the hurls and sliotars the primary school girls.
They’ve no camogie club and the girls in the area have a huge interest in getting involved and playing camogie
Just recently we’ve also added in nearby Glinsk, Co Galway. They’ve no camogie club and the girls in the area have a huge interest in getting involved and playing camogie. The 31 girls in primary school there will be getting hurls and sliotars in the coming weeks.
The next step is to get the schools’ sporting programmes involved. Having the equipment is one thing, but being able to use it is the next step the campaign needs to look at.
Investing in the younger girls so they come up and add to the success of the club is huge. It’s not easy but it needs to be done or else there won’t be any club.
I coached the minors two years ago and then the U16s this year and last year
For the underage girls, I think it’s very important for them to be able to recognise the older girls and see what’s possible if they keep going. In our club we do have a few senior players coaching the underage. I coached the minors two years ago and then the U16s this year and last year.
For the campaign, Michael brought on board more sponsors. Getting the girls involved in the campaign is one thing but having them see sponsorship from the likes of Ward & Burke Construction, Aurivo, Kepak and local dairy farmers – what would traditionally be mostly male-dominated industries – supporting them is great. That might encourage them to join these more male-dominated fields like farming, agri-business, construction and engineering.
Camogie isn’t the central focus of our parish or even in Roscommon in general. It’s more football, football, football. Hopefully having this campaign will drive on more girls in sport. Even to have girls realise that there is support there and people want them to be playing, it’s not only the lads – because unfortunately it has been like that in the past.
Now the underage girls have another team to play. Not knowing them as well is brilliant because it’s something new
With the 20x20 campaign as well, hopefully that will give the younger girls in our parish the confidence to try a sport. Even if they don’t like it but at least they’ll have put themselves out there and have given it a try. That’s all we’re really asking.
At the moment there are only four senior camogie clubs in Roscommon. There has been a new setup in Boyle in the north of the county a few years ago. Now the underage girls have another team to play. Not knowing them as well is brilliant because it’s something new.
Hopefully in the next few years, with more players staying on, they’ll be a few more teams in the senior championship.
Playing a team sport has so many benefits. I even felt it myself going into the workforce after college. Really, the work ethic and commitment that’s needed for a team sport is a big factor.
We’re not all the same, so we need to be able to work with other people
Realising that you’re a part of a team, so if you don’t go to training you’re not only letting yourself down, but you’re letting down other people around you.
Being part of a team helps you work with other personalities. We’re not all the same, so we need to be able to work with other people – that lends itself in the workplace later on also.
Team sport also builds resilience. It helps you deal with success but, then again, unfortunately, more often than not, failure. Losing the county final isn’t the easiest thing to do but that definitely helps you cope in life in general.