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Skorts: What are they and why are we suddenly talking about them?

Many camogie players find the mandated skirt-short hybrids restricting, but it seems they’ll be stuck wearing them until 2027 at least

What on earth are skorts?

They’re not, as you might imagine, how south Dubliners pronounce “skirts”. Think shorts and skirts, and then combine them. So what you end up with are, well, skirts with shorts underneath.

Right. But why are we talking about them?

Well, camogie players are obliged to wear skorts. Rule 6(b) of the sport’s code ordains that playing gear must include a “skirt/skort/divided skirt”. The problem is that most players hate wearing them, arguing that they restrict their freedom, largely because the shorts are of the “compression” kind, and they would prefer to wear regular shorts.

And this issue has been rumbling on a while?

It has. It’s a whole six years since Dublin player Eve O’Brien, talking to The 42, said: “Jesus, I’ll get killed for this. But the Camogie Association is just a very conservative organisation that does not like change. We wear skorts just because we’re women – it’s feminine and we should be ladies and wear skorts. It’s a small thing, but it’s very symbolic of the organisation that is quite traditional.”

And all of this has amped up of late?

Yes. Last year London club Thomas McCurtains launched its Shorts Not Skorts campaign, and it all came to a head last weekend when two proposals were put to camogie’s congress calling for the rule to be changed.



Both proposals were defeated. And the issue can’t be up for discussion again until 2027.


Seriously. Sixty-four per cent of the delegates voted against Tipperary and Kerry’s motion that wanted the “skirt/skort/divided skirt” wording removed completely and replaced with “shorts”, while 55 per cent said no thank you to Meath and Britain’s proposal that shorts be offered as a choice alongside skorts.

Was it all auld fellas who voted?

No! The majority of the delegates were women.

Break this to me gently ... is this all about, eh, ‘modesty’?

A bit, yeah. As Kerry player Niamh Leen said to the Killarney Advertiser this week, “honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition, maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable. I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”

Was it always this way?

No, it was worse! There was a time when the rule stated that camogie players had to wear blouses and their skirts should be worn “not less than six inches from the ground”. So imagine bearing in on goal in the last minute of an All-Ireland final, and ending up on your face when you tripped over your skirt?

So there’s a bit of a history here?

There is. When Archbishop John Charles McQuaid vented back in the 1930s about sporty women – for example, women sharing sports arenas with men were “un-Irish and un-Catholic” – one of the first to support his contention was Seán O’Duffy, then secretary of the Camogie Association. He would, he vowed, “do all in his power to ensure that no girl would appear on any sports ground in a costume to which any exception could be taken”.

Cripes. Can the players not just ignore the rule and wear whatever makes them comfortable?

They can – and the Kerry County Board, for one, are backing their players if they want to do just that. But – and it’s a big one – any player who turns up in shorts for a game will be booked by the referee. And if she refuses to swap them for skorts, she will be sent off. So, if all 15 players wear shorts and refuse to budge out of them, then all of them will be dismissed and you’ll have a rather one-sided game.

What if both teams turned up in shorts?

Now you’re talkin’.