Butler buzzing for new camogie season following seismic week

by Stephen Findlater

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IN A SEISMIC week for intercounty camogie, Naomh Jude’s Leah Butler is buzzing to get the new intercounty season under way on Saturday against Kilkenny in Callan (2pm). 

She does safe in the knowledge the preferred “split season” proposal for camogie has, belatedly, been scheduled in a defined manner, separating club and county commitments. 

In addition, that trip to Callan will now not be coming out of the pocket of Butler and her team mates following the government’s announcement that camogie and ladies football will receive the same grant treatment of their male counterparts. 

“It’s huge, amazing progress. We have never had this much respect shown to us really,’ she said on Wednesday.  

“Having the WGPA helping us to get the position changed [on expenses], we never had that before. We have the voices now and the voices are being listened to because they have to.  

“The grants are a long time coming; it’s 2021 and they should have been in place by now so we are so grateful there now is equal funding. It was needed and it is right for it to be equal for GAA athletes, male and female.” 

As for the fixture list, he says “common sense prevailed”. Initially, county league and championship commitments were due to sandwich the club championship season. 

However, following a backlash, the Camogie Association duly put two schedule options out to the clubs and a midweek vote saw the intercounty players preferred option approved, bringing it into line with other codes. 

“It would have been madness to go with the opposite to the other codes,” Butler said. “It is better for all players; a lot play football and camogie for their clubs and they wouldn’t have been able to do that when county was on.  

“Having a defined club season and county season is just better for player welfare. I do think club players will get their meaningful games in the summer and I think it would have been crazy to not play for eight months and then go into championship. 

“ They will have a league now without intercounty players, a summer cup while the county championship is on then everyone will have plenty of game time going into club championship. I think it works out better for all. 

“In fairness to the Camogie Association, they did take the right steps. They did put the question out to all the camogie clubs so we have to commend them for putting in the seven-day delay, trying to do what was right and what the players wanted.  

“What they thought players wanted was obviously slightly different from the players did want themselves and so they went back on it.” 

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It adds an extra dimension of positivity to the county setup which Butler says has been sky-high since they got down to business with Adrian O’Sullivan in as manager and her decorated club manager Donie Fox joining the setup. 

O’Sullivan has said he thinks Dublin is the “biggest job in camogie” and Butler says it is important to finally harness their potential after a couple of mixed seasons with plenty of management changes. 

“It is a big job because there is so much potential in Dublin camogie that we need to start utilising.  

“Adrian is so positive, especially along with Donie – they are a great team and work really well. It is a big task, especially because the footballers are so successful in Dublin, winning multiple All-Irelands in a row.  

“Maybe there is that pressure there because the county is so successful but I think we will get there in the next few years if they stick around; they have been brilliant so far.” 

She knows Fox well from their mutual success with Jude’s on the Dublin club scene in recent years and she adds that he has slotted in perfectly. 

“He’s bringing a new type of training to the county scene. He’s not slogging us or putting us on those long, hard runs. It is so focused on the technical skills and it has been excellent so far, breaking it down to our gameplan, to our skills, to our athletic development.  

“The focus he has on athletic development and everyone improving every area of their game – their strength, speed, skill and fitness. It is a holistic approach. 

“Everything has a purpose, it feels more purposeful because it is so specific to each section of the game.”  

PHOTO – Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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