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Spotlight on Camogie

The Camogie Association is the highest governing authority for the sport of Camogie. It was founded in Dublin in 1905 with Máire Chinnéide as the first President. Máire was also an Irish language activist and a playwright. Six years later the association was reconstituted as Cualacht Luithchleas na mBan Gaedheal. For the next thirty years the sport appeared to go through more reconstitutions and even a breakaway. There were several disputes, mainly over whether male officials should be allowed to hold office and whether ladies who played hockey, should have permission to also play camogie. It was only by 1951 when the last of the disputes were finally resolved. A decision was made to change the rules for teams to increase to 15-a-side from the original 12-a-side. Nearly forty years later it was decided to use the larger GAA-style fields which directly contributed to the increase of affiliations after 1999 by 140 clubs a decade later. It was in 2010 when a new constitution was drawn up to shorten the name to An Cumann Camogaiochta. The English title of Camogie Association was widely accepted, as by then the presence of the sport had grown in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australasia. The association also has close ties with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), who is the world governing authority for Hurling (the men’s version of the sport).  

The name was first invented in 1903 and is derived from the stick used in the game. The men’s version (hurling) involves a curved stick called a camán. In the early camogie games, women used a shorter stick called a camóg. There are over 530 clubs worldwide, of which over 95% are based in Ireland. Each team has fifteen players on the field, made up of one goalkeeper, three full back players, three half back players, two centre-field players, three half forward players, and three full forward players. A team must always have twelve players on the pitch. Camogie is almost identical to hurling, apart from ten exceptions. Some of these include the permission to handpass any score from play (forbidden in hurling), the play lasts 60 minutes (70 minutes in hurling), and a smaller ball is used. A camogie field is not of a fixed size but is normally between 130m long by 80m wide and 145m long by 90m wide. The goals are H-shaped, and a point is scored when the ball goes between the posts. Three points are scored when the ball goes under the bar for a goal. Most clubs are based in Ireland and the association oversees the All-Ireland Championships and the National Camogie League. Shinty is a version of the sport played in Scotland and each year Ireland and Scotland play a camogie-shinty international.  

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