Everything you wanted to know about Camogie, but were afraid to ask.

By Liberty Insurance Ireland on 17 June 2016
Everything you wanted to know about Camogie, but were afraid to ask.

A rundown on one of the fastest, toughest field games in the world.

The 2016 Liberty Insurance Camogie Championship kicks off this Saturday, a day we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. But if you’re not familiar with the game, you might wonder why we’re so passionate about it. The history, the rules and the sheer skill involved all add up to what is one of the most thrilling – and underrated games – in the world.

Camogie is a fast and furious Irish stick-and-ball team field sport played by women.

So, what exactly is camogie?

Camogie is a fast and furious Irish stick-and-ball team field sport played by women. The origin of the word camogie is interesting. Men played hurling – a near identical game – using a curved stick called a camán. Women would use a shorter stick, at one stage described by the diminutive form camóg. Then in 1904, the name was Anglicised to camogie.

The rules of the game

Two teams of 15 play in a 60-minute match. The objective of the game is for players to use a wooden stick to hit a small ball between the opponents' goalposts, either over the crossbar, or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper.

The ball, called a sliotar, can be caught in the hand and carried for no more than four steps, struck into the air or along on the ground with the stick. It can be kicked or slapped with an open hand for short-range passing.

You can see the official camogie rules in full here.

She shoots, but how does she score?

A goal is scored when the ball goes between the posts and under the H-shaped bar. This is equal to three points. One point is scored when the ball goes over the bar.

As an example, the final score in the 2015 All-Ireland Championship Final was Cork 1-13 Galway 0-9. This means Cork won with one goal and 13 points against Galway’s nine points. Simple!

A short history

Two women Máire Ní Chinnéide and Cáit Ní Dhonnchadha, both prominent Irish-language enthusiasts and cultural nationalists, were instrumental in the foundation of the sport in 1903, with the help of Ní Dhonnchadha's brother Tadhg, who drew up the rules.

The first All-Ireland took place in 1932, included 10 counties and was won by Dublin

Unlike other Gaelic games, Camogie is organised by the Camogie Association, not the GAA. The first All-Ireland took place in 1932, included 10 counties and was won by Dublin. Seán O’Duffy of Mayo donated a silver cup, which is why the championship cup is known as the O’Duffy Cup to this day.

In those days, the game looked a little different. Players lined-out wearing gym-frocks that covered the knee, long black stockings, canvas boots, and long-sleeved blouses with a belt or sash around the waist.

Cork and Dublin dominated the early years, but the Camogie Association was torn by disagreements in the forties. Neither Dublin nor Cork participated for a number of years, which left the way clear for new champions, including Antrim which achieved three consecutive victories.

While Dublin remained outside the Association, the Dublin C.I.E. club was allowed to represent the county in 1947 and 1948. On their second attempt, the club carried off the All-Ireland title, a remarkable feat for a single club! The break must have done Dublin some good. When they returned to the competition, they won an amazing 18 All-Ireland senior titles in 19 years.

Wexford, Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary have all achieved notable results over the last few decades, increasing the game’s standards of play.

The main competitions

  • At county level, the top 10 county teams play each other in the All-Ireland Championship season, which culminates in the All-Ireland Final at Croke Park every September. It has a record attendance of 33,154 and the final is televised live, with a TV audience of over 300,000.
  • Outside of the championship, all counties play in the National League. It is divided into three divisions, graded by ability, and takes place throughout the winter and spring.
  • Club championships are played between teams not tied to the counties.

Record-breaking teams and players

  • Cork and Dublin have won the most Camogie All-Ireland titles with 26 each.
  • Cork holds the record for the most National Camogie League titles at 14
  • Cork camogie and football stars Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery, have an amazing 16 All-Ireland Medals each, more than any other GAA player
  • Cally Riordan, who appeared for the Junior and Senior Cork teams in the 1973 All Ireland Camogie Championship Finals, is the only GAA player to have won two All-Ireland medals in one day
  • Dublin camogie centre-half-forward Sophie Brack won a record eight All-Ireland medals in a row, between 1948 - 55

Camogie, a game which requires amazing levels of skill, fitness, ball control and technique, is played by 100,000 women worldwide.

The game today

Camogie, a game which requires amazing levels of skill, fitness, ball control and technique, is played by 100,000 women worldwide.

The rules may not have changed much since the early days, but the kit has. Today players wear skirts or ‘skorts’ and like hurling, the game has been described as "a bastion of humility", with player names absent from jerseys and a player's number decided by her position on the field.

It’s now played as far afield as Africa

Out of the 600 Camogie clubs in the world, 560 are based on the island of Ireland. But you will find four provincial councils and affiliates in Asia, Australia, Britain, Europe, New York, and North America.

And now it’s even reached Africa. Last month Cork and Wexford goalies, Aoife Murray and Mags Darcy made a trip to Ethiopia where they witnessed the country’s first ever game of camogie, in a tiny village called Ropi.

"We brought jerseys, hurleys, sliotars, showed them how to pull on the ground and that was it, they were off," said Aoife. "All the people in the village heard the noise and came down to watch."

Ready to witness one of the fastest, toughest field games in the world?

If you’re a sports fan, then over the next three months you are in for a treat. All 10 teams play this opening weekend, including defending title holders Cork who will be going into the season full of confidence:

Not only are the €40 tickets great value, 20% of each sale goes directly to the County Camogie Board where you bought it.

  • Clare v Offaly
  • Waterford v Cork
  • Wexford v Limerick
  • Derry v Kilkenny
  • Galway v Tipperary

The 2016 Cairde Camogie Season ticket, which gives you access to all rounds Championship and the triple header All-Ireland Finals in Croke Park, is on sale now. Not only are the €40 tickets great value, 20% of each sale goes directly to the County Camogie Board where you bought it. You can buy tickets online or from County Boards.

We wish all players and spectators a great season ahead!

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