LIBBY Coppinger believes that female GAA players should not be left out of pocket for representing their county.
The Cork dual star was one of seven inter-county players – Gaelic football, ladies football and camogie – who took part in a survey for The42, which highlighted it costs players an average of €1,450 per month to play inter-county.
It showed, too, that players’ biggest expense is covering mileage costs.
In one month this year St Colum’s club woman Coppinger, who is a starter on both the county football and camogie teams, spent 45 hours commuting to her inter-county teams. That amounted to 1,865 miles.
She lives at home in Kealkill. The commute from home to camogie training at Castle Road in Blackrock is a 160km round trip. Cork football training in Cloughduv is a 96km round-trip. On busy weekends when she’s in action for both Cork teams Coppinger stays in Wilton, to cut down on travel.
While the GAA pays male players 65 cent a mile for matches and training, both the LGFA and Camogie Association do not help cover fuel costs.
In 2021 Coppinger received a total of €963 in Government funding, which made a small dent in the actual cost for the West Cork woman, as the Cork camogie team reached the All-Ireland final and the footballers contested an All-Ireland semi-final.
Coppinger admits, too, she was alarmed when she tracked her costs for one month.
‘The main message is that you shouldn't be out of pocket for representing your county, but it is a case with a lot of us female players,’ Coppinger told The Southern Star.
‘I know we got a bit of compensation the year before because of Covid and the fact that we had to drive to games because there were no buses. Last year was the first year we got some reimbursement for the money we had spent over the year.
‘At the time I was thinking this was great, but when you look back at what we were totting up it was just a small dent in what we spent on mileage, nutrition and all of that.’
Right now, dual ace Coppinger is out of pocket for representing her county. She’s not the only one. The majority, if not all, of her inter-county team-mates are in the same position. The rising fuel costs are a concern too, increasing the financial burden on players.
‘You try not to think about it because you would start thinking what would I be using that money for,’ she says.
‘I am at a stage in my life where I am playing and working. When you look at the figures it is alarming to see how much is going into just driving up and down the road, just for training.
‘Injury-wise, I haven’t been too bad, but there are girls out of pocket for physios, appointments, time off work because they have got injured playing. That’s another massive factor as well.
‘We are all doing it because we love to play but the message is that you don’t want to be out of pocket too much. Even breaking even would be massive. We are not looking for too much extra.
‘You would hope that with the light being shone on this now that something might change, but we are not holding our breath either which is bad to say. It would be great to get to the stage where the female players were getting some bit of assistance and not being out of pocket.’