Paudie Palmer: Female sport in the spotlight but the same issues remain

Paudie Palmer: Female sport in the spotlight but the same issues remain

Cork dual player Meabh Cahalane after the camogie team were beaten by Kilkenny recently. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

IF you go by the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity, this was a massive week for ladies football.

The big win that may come from this is it shines a light on some inequalities. There are many within the GAA community with serious reservations about the benefits of the GPA but if the LGPA and themselves amalgamate it will the first positive here.

On this occasion, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association are certainly to blame for a number of the issues, though they did originally move the Cork-Galway fixture to accommodate the Rebel dual players. 

That was laudable, even if a clash with camogie should never have been allowed to develop in the first place.

However, they booked the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick for the semi-final. The provision was if Limerick beat Galway, which they were favourites to do, they’d need their ground to prepare for the All-Ireland final with Waterford.

The next move was where it really went belly up. Instead of the LGFA sourcing another venue in the Mid West, they ended up opting for Parnell Park, where last Saturday TG4 screened a very entertaining junior final between Fermanagh and Wicklow. That was obviously going to make television coverage of Cork-Galway the next day a bit easier, though ironically the game ended up behind closed doors and away from TV or streaming services.

What happened on Sunday in terms of the pitch in Parnell Park being frozen probably should serve to remind us among other things of how lucky weather-wise, the camogie, ladies football and indeed the GAA itself have been. Hard to believe in a winter championship no games have been called of yet on that basis.

Now somebody must be given credit for sourcing Croker because it is very possible that in other scenarios both teams would have headed back to base camp and play the match next weekend. It’s not every day that when a pitch becomes unplayable, that Croke Park becomes their fall-back option!

Of course, the move to Jones Road presented challenges to the teams and management but also to the press personnel who were scheduled to cover the game, but can you imagine the furore that would ensue if the game wasn’t played.

The silver cloud is that now the various organisations simply have to look at bringing the GAA, camogie and ladies football under one umbrella. Notwithstanding some genuine efforts over the years, you get the feeling that a number at the top-level view this akin to turkeys voting for Christmas. Does it suit those running the sports to have one organisation? Answers on a postcard, please.


It could come to it, but hopefully not, that outside bodies may have to get involved. I know many of you weren’t fans of Shane Ross but when he told the FAI that the postman wouldn’t be calling with the cheque unless reform was part of the solution, it had an impact.

Could Catherine Martin or indeed Michéal Martin inform the GAA brothers and sisters that prior to any further state aid they would need to see substantial progress on the unification process? Don’t rule it out.

And look it’s easy to criticise those in administration. Many clubs and fixture making committees are at or nearing breaking point at the paucity of numbers but none the less if this issue isn’t addressed and brought into the bigger domain, standards will not improve.

Take this county. Many clubs are served by the Cork County Board which as well as having voluntary personnel, there are a number of paid staff which play a vital role as you would expect in presenting a fixture programme for its constituent teams. If I am not mistaken a similar situation applies in the Rebel Óg.

OK, I may not be fully appraised of the workings of both Cork Camogie and Cork Ladies Football boards, but I would doubt if they have paid officials involved. In actual fact, I would ask the question as to the levels of cooperation that operate between the two bodies.

Oh yes my friends there is a massive body of work to be done.

Maebh Cahalane, Libby Coppinger, Fiona Keating, Hannah Looney and Ciara McCarthy are members of the inter-county dual movement Did they ever think, that they would set in motion a sequence of events that would have the Taoiseach of the day issuing a statement?

Brexit can wait.

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