With the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Championship finals around the corner, Aoife McDonald looks at the sporting – and sponsorship – appeal of one of Ireland’s most popular female team sports.
At the launch of the Camogie Association’s annual report earlier this year, one phrase really stood out.
Encouraging more girls and women to give it a try, Association chief Joan O’Flynn said: “Camogie is an incredibly fast, skilful, non-contact sport.”
Did you know that camogie was a non-contact sport? Me neither! But it is.
It's so fast, you see, and so skilful that the non-contact element is sometimes lost on the untrained eye.
Yes there are bumps and bruises along the way, but the point of the game is to avoid other players; to let the ball do the work.
Sporting sleight of hand
This is where the skill element comes in. The game is sporting sleight of hand brought to life. At times it is nothing short of mesmerising – an absolute joy to watch.
A joy to play as well, apparently (ladies football was the dominant sport in my native county of Monaghan). More people are playing camogie today than ever, with a further 5% increase in registered membership compared with 2014.
That statistic is not hard to explain. Camogie teaches skill, teamwork, decision-making under pressure, plus of course incredible conditioning and fitness.
At a time when parents are increasingly concerned about their kids’ lack of physical activity, camogie might just be the perfect game to take up.
From a corporate sponsorship perspective, that annual report will have pricked up a few ears as well.
Not only are more people playing the sport, more people are watching it – and reading about it too.
The 2015 All-Ireland Final saw a whopping 30% increase in attendance, making it the best-attended final in more than five years. The recent semi-finals broadcast live on RTE One television peaked at over 250,000 viewers – also encouraging and a positive step to broadcast more games.
(This year’s showdown on 11 September might re-write the record books!)
Spike in camogie coverage
2015 also saw a 47% increase in coverage in national newspapers, a 41% increase in online coverage and a 19% increase in broadcast coverage during that year’s championship.
Those are the sort of figures that make very interesting reading to potential sponsors.
As the team’s countdown to D-day, there’s a sense that the game is in good health. Everything is trending upwards – active participation, match attendance, media interest.
We are a sports mad country and camogie might just be the next big thing. Get out and catch a game some time!
The All-Ireland Camogie Championship Finals take place at Croke Park on Sunday, 11 September 2016. Tickets are available here with discounts for early and group bookings
Aoife McDonald is a Senior Client Manager and Head of Cullen Communications’ Sports PR division