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Speech at the launch of the Third Level Camogie “Triple Header” in Croke Park


Tá an-áthas orm a bheith in bhur measc ag an ocáid speisíalta seo.  Is dea-chomhartha iad na forbairtí nua seo don chomógaíocht i measc mic léinn an triú leibhéil. 

I want to thank you for inviting me here this afternoon to launch this Third Level Camogie “Triple Header”.  Today is testament to the enormous strides being made to promote and further develop camogie in third level colleges right across the country.  

I am delighted that the recipients of the new Third level camogie bursaries are being announced at this event.  These bursaries provide positive proof of the impact of the €1.5million provided this year for new hurling and camogie initiatives by my colleague, Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O'Donoghue.  

These bursaries represent the first of their kind for the CCIA.  This year’s recipients represent some of the top players in camogie at third level and it is wonderful to see their success and their commitment to the game being recognised today.  I congratulate each of them on receiving these well deserved awards. 

You are role models not only for your peers at third level but also for all those coming behind you who have an interest in camogie.  I have no doubt that you will continue to be great ambassadors for a game that demands skill and perseverance at the highest levels. 

I am also delighted to be here to launch the Women in Sport blitz being organised for schools around the country.   This blitz will allow secondary school girls to discover the excitement of playing camogie as a pastime at all levels. Furthermore, it will demonstrate to them that camogie can be played right through school into third level and beyond.  I am delighted that you are also providing support structures for teachers to get involved in this project.  This will enable the skills developed during the blitz days to be further developed in schools.  And that is exactly what is needed if camogie is to become a central part of our schools’ sporting programmes going forward.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the colleges who have become involved in this innovative project – Waterford Institute of Technology, UCD, NUI Maynooth and the University of Limerick.  Your involvement will ensure that ever more school girls will get to enjoy playing and developing their skills in camogie in a friendly, supportive environment. 

All of the projects being launched today are central to our goal to encourage more young people, and in particular young women, to become involved in sport. 

Recent ESRI Reports have yet again confirmed that there is a low level of participation by schoolgirls in sport.  There is, in fact, a large minority of girls who do not engage in sport at all.  And as you are more than aware, even among those who do play, there is an alarming level of dropout through second level and beyond.

That is why the Government provided funding of €750,000 last year to the Irish Sports Council to promote the participation of women in sport.  This led to the development of the Women in Sport Initiative by the Sports Council under which your Blitz programme is being funded.  Recognising the importance of this initiative, the Government is supplementing this funding in 2006 by an additional €1.5million. 

Programmes such as those being launched today are critical not only to the growth of camogie but also to the success of the Women in Sport initiative into the future.  By demonstrating to young women the possibilities that exist to continue playing sport throughout their lives, you will encourage them to get actively involved and enjoy all of its benefits.  I know that the CCIA have made huge strides in promoting camogie at third level over the years.  And with over 30 colleges participating in 11 competitions, you are making sure your presence is felt on campuses across the country. 

I know that there has been some fierce competition amongst the ranks in both the Ashbourne and Purcell Cups in recent years.  I am sure therefore that the announcement of this year’s draws for both competitions has been much anticipated. 

To my mind, the ongoing strength of camogie at third-level is highlighted by the fact that the Ashbourne Cup – the anchor competition at third level – represents the oldest camogie competition in the country today.  First played in 1915, it was a good seventeen years before the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship was inaugurated.

I am delighted to hear also that you are announcing the addition of the Fr Meagher Cup this year, which will bring the number of championship competitions to three.  Equally, I gather that your esteemed honorary President, Bridín Uí Mhaolagáin, is to have a competition named after her!  I am delighted to see her dedication and enthusiasm for all things associated with camogie, the Irish language and much more being recognised in this way.

All of these competitions will ensure that camogie continues to be played on third level campuses throughout the year – and not just in the bleaker winter months when the weather is so much harsher for players and supporters. 

I would like to pay tribute to the CCIA and Cumann Camógáiochta na nGael for all that they are doing to promote camogie at every level.  By concentrating on developing the sporting talents of young women you will ensure the future health both of the game and its players going forward.

I wish you every success with these many programmes in 2006 and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh uile.