Cork Ladies footballers to finally grace the Páirc

Cork Ladies footballers to finally grace the Páirc
Aileen Buckley, Donoughmore a winner of The Echo, Winter quarterly Women in Sport awards at the Cork Airport Hotel. Included are Eoghan Dinan, Deputy Editor, The Echo and Diarmuid Vaughan, GM, Cork Airport Hotel, sponsors. Picture Dan Linehan

HISTORY will be made on January 25th when the Cork Senior Ladies Footballers play in Pairc Ui Chaoimh for the first time.

Cork LGFA announced earlier this week that their opening Division 1 league fixture against Westmeath will precede the men’s Division 3 league opener.

The women will take to the field at 4 pm, kicking off their defence of the Division 1 title, while Ronan McCarthy’s charges lock horns with Offaly at 6 pm.

The fact the Cork Senior Ladies Footballers, who have won 11 All-Ireland titles since 2005, have never gotten a chance to play in the iconic Leeside venue has been well documented throughout the years, no more so then in the summer of 2018, when both the men and women’s Munster championship finals fell on the same day, against the same opposition, yet the women found themselves playing in CIT, when a few hours later the men took to the Pairc.

But in 2019, the mind-set finally started to shift and the LGFA and GAA showed signs of finally starting to forge some sort of fruitful partnership that has thankfully carried forward into 2020.

The Cork Ladies had been pencilled in for two games at Páirc Uí Chaoimh during the 2019 Lidl National League campaign but due to the redevelopment of the pitch, those plans never came to fruition, unfortunately.

All was not lost though, as the double-headers still took place at Páirc Uí Rinn which was a massive step forward.

It was very encouraging to finally see a development in the relationship between the men’s and women’s county boards in terms of collaborating on fixtures. In order to increase attendances, its vital women’s games are played at central venues to encourage patrons to turn up and a double header with the Cork men’s side is worth its weight in gold in terms of exposing the game to a wider audience.

Speaking on behalf of Cork GAA, Chairperson Tracey Kennedy said: “Cork County Board is delighted to be able to facilitate this double-header at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“It’s a very special occasion, as these will be the first inter-county games played on the new pitch surface, and it’s wonderful to have both our men’s and women’s teams involved. I look forward to many more of these double-headers in the future.” Cork LGFA Chairperson Neilus O’Carroll added: “I think it’s a dream come true for Cork Ladies Football, to get to play at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“So many great players down through the years never played in their own main stadium, and it was a thorn for them.

“I always knew that change would come, especially when Tracey (Kennedy) became (Cork GAA) Chairperson, and I’m delighted that it has come to pass.

“The girls will be absolutely thrilled to play there on the 25th, especially in such a new stadium.” Speaking on behalf of the Cork Ladies Senior Football panel, captain Doireann O’Sullivan commented: “First of all, it’s a huge stepping stone for us, and with that bit of history as well.

“Everybody was disappointed when that was unfortunately, and through nobody’s fault, taken away from us last year.

“We’re really looking forward to it and when you think of the great players who went before us who didn’t have this opportunity, we’re really lucky.

“There’s the added bonus that it’s a double-header and hopefully there will be a good crowd at it.

“It’s a stepping stone for Ladies Football and for Cork as well. We’re delighted with it.” Helen O’Rourke, CEO of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, added: “This is wonderful and timely news for the Cork Ladies Footballers, who have won numerous honours in recent years and remain one of the top teams in our game.

“On behalf of the LGFA, I would like to thank Cork LGFA and Cork GAA for their hard work in ensuring that their Ladies Footballers have such a fabulous venue in which to display their talents.

“Cork are the reigning Lidl National League Division 1 champions and among the front-runners for ultimate glory again when the Leagues conclude in April.”

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