‘There will be five or six counties who have a good chance’ – 2023 All-Ireland Camogie Championships launched

Meabh Cahalane of Cork in action against Grace Walsh, left, and Mary O'Connell of Kilkenny. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Niall Scully

THE Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Camogie Championships launch took place in the Croke Park Hotel on Friday afternoon.

Across the Jones’s Road, the players had their Photo Call as the Croke Park pitch was glistening in the sun.

“It’s an unreal venue,” remarked Cork captain, Meabh Cahalane. “The surface always looks so well.”

She’d love to return there on the big days. “Yes, we had two close games there last season. And there’s a real hunger in the group to get back there again.”

In last season’s All-Ireland semi-final, Waterford came close to causing a sensation before Cork edged clear in the end. Davy Fitzgerald was part of Matthew Twomey's coaching ticket.

This season's senior championship campaign throws-in next month, and the Leeside skipper feels there will be many more close contests to relish.

“It won’t be just one or two teams who will be in contention for the All-Ireland title. I think there will be five or six counties who have a good chance of doing it.

“Every game is important now. You can’t take any match for granted. And that is good for camogie.”

Cork lost last year’s All-Ireland final to Kilkenny. By a point. The two sides have produced some classical duels. When Cork last lifted the O'Duffy Cup in 2018, they pipped Kilkenny. By a point.

Kilkenny won the Leinster Championship last week, overcoming Dublin in an excellent tussle at sun-splashed Nowlan Park.

“That game will serve us well going into the All-Ireland series,” states the Kilkenny captain, Sinéad O’Keeffe. “Our preparations have been going well. We have got a good spell of training in. The games will soon be coming at us, thick and fast.

“We’d love to get back to Croke Park again. We have lost some players, but that gives other players their opportunities. We’ll continue to focus on ourselves, and we realise that winning any game is not easy.”

Camogie President, Hilda Breslin, is also predicting that the competition will be crammed with compelling contests.

“I feel there could well be a changing of the guard this year,” she says. “There could be some surprises and upsets on the cards.

“You sense that the likelihood of that happening has been there for a while now, so that adds to the excitement of it all. I think we are looking at a very competitive Championship.”

Hilda is hoping that the turnstiles will be clicking faster than ever before. Last year's All-Ireland final attracted almost 25,000 spectators.

“As they say, you can’t beat being there. I’d encourage as many as possible to get out to the games. To show their support for women in sport.

"We are delighted with the television coverage on RTÉ. The viewing figures are very high. Still, the players all say the same thing. There’s nothing better than seeing a big crowd on the terraces and in the stands, and hearing supporters urging you on. Players really respond to that. It brings out the best in them."

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