Cancelling ladies football All-Ireland for minors is a 'complete own goal'

Anger in Cork as U14, U16 and U18 competitions are ruled out for 2021
Cancelling ladies football All-Ireland for minors is a 'complete own goal'

Ellie Jack of Cork in action against Jane Duffy of Monaghan during the 2019 All-Ireland Ladies Football Minor final. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

TWO prominent figures in Cork ladies football have criticised a recent decision by the sports governing body to scrap the All-Ireland series at underage level for 2021.

LGFA officials have cancelled national underage inter-county competitions for this season at U14, U16 and minor level which is the second successive year this has occurred. The LGFA has informed counties that provinces can organise a championship at these levels and they must be completed by the end of August.

Brian Cotter, the current chairperson of West Cork ladies football branded it a ‘lazy’ decision. 

“It makes no sense. A small bit of thought and it could be done no problem. Last week should have been a huge week of celebration for ladies sport with the agreed equal funding across all the GAA forums, the increase in coverage of games and the availability of top stadiums nationwide for the players. Instead, here we are fighting with ourselves.”

The chairperson hopes common sense will ultimately prevail and the LGFA will reverse their decision. 

“It is a complete own goal. It is very disappointing. They just seem to have no desire to do it. I hope they see the wood from the trees. A bit of cop-on is required. It is not too late. 

"There is a full year there for the games to be played. I can guarantee you that not one player from the U14, U16 or minor squad would not be willing to play a game at any time of the year.

This is the wrong message to be sending out to young players. They just want the opportunity to represent their county.” 

Cotter, who is involved with the Cork U16 ladies football team, said they are in talks with the Cork County Board to look at all their options. 

“The County Board are just as upset as we are. There are plenty of irate players, parents, coaches, and club officials in Cork. The County Board are writing to Croke Park seeking clarity on the decision and looking for them to overturn their decision. This decision goes completely against player retention, volunteer retention, and player pathway.”

Bantry Blues club stalwart Anne O’Grady who has been involved with the Cork minor ladies footballers in recent years shares tge shock at the recent decision. 

“It is definitely a backward step. It is bizarre. I still retain hope and I hope common sense will prevail. 

"There is definitely a big appetite to hold these championships. 

There are huge numbers training for both the Cork U16 and minor teams at present. 

"I understand the window is tight, but why not run it later this year? They have months to play this, so I can’t understand the lack of vision.”

OFFICIAL VIEW

The Cork LGFA have released a statement criticising the decision of the game's governing body:

"The reasoning that the LGFA cite for not conducting these competitions have absolutely no credibility.

"Playing the All Ireland underage championship would entail one extra week, two games maximum per player, resulting in goodwill being restored and a fantastic weekend for ladies football leading into the start of the county club championships. Having said all of this, we are open to any and all solutions. These girls would play Christmas day if they were asked.

In a time when women in sport must fight for every inch of equality and are beginning to gain ground bit by bit, this is a slap in the face to the many players, parents and volunteers who drive the cause of equality forward.

"What message are we sending to these girls? You are too weak to handle the multiple facets of life, but a boy can."

You can read the full details here.

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