Experimental rules for a female stick-and-ball game were drawn up in 1903, and the first public game took place in July of that year, and so the game of camogie was officially launched. Men used to play with a ‘camán’, but the women would use a shorter stick described in the diminutive form ‘camóg’. So the game was called ‘camógaíocht’ and this was anglicised to camogie. The pitches used were shorter than standard, the game lasted 50 minutes and teams were 12-a-side, using an elliptical formation of 1-3-3-3-1. In 1999 camogie moved to the normal GAA field size, teams were 15-a-side and they adopted the standard GAA butterfly formation of 3-3-2-3-3.
The first All-Ireland final was played for the O’Duffy Cup in the Sportsground in 1933 between Dublin and Galway, with Dublin winning by 3-2 to 0-2. The game was refereed by Stephen Jordan TD, and it was watched by 1,000 spectators. There are 34 camogie clubs in the county. Galway’s only championship victory came in 1996, but our current team are off to Croke Park this weekend to hopefully double that record by winning this year’s final against Wexford.
The 1939 Galway camogie team:
Back row, left to right: Nora Conroy, Josephine Melvin, Catherine Griffin, Peggy Morris, Michael John Kennedy, C Hunt, Monica Duggan, and Kathleen Cosgrove. In front are Frankie Coen, Hilda Murphy, Evelyn O’Beirne, Nora Kavanagh, Celia Mulholland, Nora O’Connell, and Catherine Keys.
Peggy Morris played the game from 1928 to 1945, and was regarded as one of the greatest camogie players ever. She later refereed three All-Ireland finals. Celia Mulholland was a sister of Galway footballer Ned Mulholland and she subsequently refereed four All-Irelands. Monica Duggan was almost born to play the game, being a sister of hurlers Sean, Jimmy, and Mogan. Kathleen Cosgrove once scored a point from the sideline in Croke Park, but her playing career was cut short when she got an accidental wallop on the knee in training from Siobhán McKenna. Two other Galway women who later refereed finals were Jane Murphy and Kathleen Quinn.
- This article was originally published in the Galway Advertiser on Sept 8, 2011
- Visit our History section for a listing of previous All-Ireland Finals involving Galway, from 1932 onwards