The victorious Newmarket-on-Fergus U14 camogie side, several of these players are affected by the fixture clash. Photograph: David Dillon

REIGNING CLARE COMMUNITY GAMES camogie champions, Newmarket-on-Fergus have been forced to withdraw from the county finals scheduled to take place this weekend.

Fixture clashes involving dual players for the Cork senior camogie and ladies football teams provided immense frustration last weekend and now the regular issue has reared its head in Co Clare but this time affecting young girls.

Newmarket-on-Fergus will represent Clare in the Regional Féile Ladies Football competition in Kildare this Saturday morning and on the same day they were also to be involved in the Community Games camogie final which begins at 09:30.

A date for the regional competition had been set since March of this year with rumblings of a potential fixture clash emerging three weeks ago.

Manager of the Newmarket-on-Fergus community games side, Diarmuid O’Leary said they notified the Community Games Board of the matter three weeks ago and offered an alternative date and venue to host the finals to accommodate their dual players. “It’s disappointing, we thought we gave enough notice to be fair from way out. It’s disappointing that not enough parties came together to find an alternative date, we’re coming out of COVID and we should be doing everything possible to be inclusive with our games”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, O’Leary voiced his frustration that girls aged twelve and thirteen will be forced to choose a sport this weekend, “To be putting this pressure on to choose a sport is very unfair when we’re trying to encourage them to play sports”.

Currently the reigning champions in the Community Games camogie competition, he said they have been forced to pull out of the competition with only eight players available as a result of the fixture clash. Last week, he managed the U14 side to win the U14A Cup final. “It is every kid’s dream to get to Féile and go play outside the county. The lead up is all part of it, the excitement and it’s putting a downer on it on what should have been very good week, we would love to have a full squad to defend our Community Games title”.

Chairperson of Clare Community Games, Paula Byrne O’Connell in a statement to The Clare Echo said the organisation is trying to return after a difficult two years. She flagged that Clare Community Games has been in existence for over fifty years with more than forty different cultural and sporting events for children aged six to sixteen.

Challenges posed by COVID have resulted in the committee trying “to arrange county competitions for over forty different events catering for up to 27 areas in a restricted time frame prior to provincial and national competitions”.

She added, “Our organisation is dependent upon the countless volunteers who so generously give of their time to arrange and support these events at local and county level. While our calendar of events is set in good faith, unfortunately it is inevitable our events may clash with events organised by other organisations and due to events being dependent upon volunteer coordinators and the availability of volunteers, facilities and officials it’s difficult to facilitate everyone”.

O’Leary confirmed that Newmarket-on-Fergus are set to lodge an appeal to the provincial body of the Community Games. They have been informed that there were no time pressures on the Clare organisation to run off the camogie county finals and strongly believe an alternative date could have been arranged.

While the responsibility of setting the time, date and venue rests with the Community Games, Clare Camogie Chairperson Joe O’Donnell expressed his disappointment with the clash. “We work hard at County Board level with the Ladies Football Board to have a fixtures schedule that works for both organisations and their players. It is shameful that another organisation would come up with another structure and set of fixtures, it shouldn’t happen. Children of fourteen years shouldn’t be disadvantaged”.

According to the Cratloe man a resolution can easily be put in place, “It should be resolved and can be done easily if there is any will”.

Seán Lenihan, Clare LGFA Chairperson told The Clare Echo the matter had not been officially raised with them. He noted that the Féile fixtures had been in place for months and that the Community Games were a separate entity. “From an official point of view, clashes are unfortunate but are sometimes unavoidable,” he stated.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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