PLAYERS shouldn’t be left out of pocket for representing their county – that’s the message from Cork footballer Doireann O’Sullivan as she urged the Government to increase funding for ladies GAA.
In the Women's Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) Levelling the Field report released last year, it highlighted that 93 percent of female inter-county GAA players receive no travel expenses and that the weekly fuel cost per week for a player residing in her own county is €55.
Cork forward O’Sullivan – speaking on Off The Ball AM – highlighted the five-hour round trip from Allihies to Cork city (Delanys GAA grounds) for training that two Cork footballers, Áine Terry O’Sullivan and Clare O’Shea, make a couple of times every week and they don’t receive a penny in expenses. This has to change, the Mourneabbey footballer insists.
‘We are hugely pushing for the Government to give us that grant for – and the main one – travel expenses. I’m not underplaying how far we have come in terms of food after training, showers, we’re ticking all those boxes, but the travel expenses is the gaping hole,’ O’Sullivan said.
‘I’m living in the city centre, I have 20-25 minutes to go to training. We have girls coming down from Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Áine Terry (O’Sullivan) and Clare O’Shea sit into their car down in Allihies in Beara and it’s two hours and 40 minutes for those girls to come to training.
‘Not only are they leaving work early but they are putting petrol into the car and that costs money – and you shouldn’t be out of pocket for representing your county at the highest level.
‘It is frustrating because we haven’t done anything about it. The only thing we have done is increased awareness, but we are urging the Government to back it, just do it, give us the grant, give us the money and we will hugely benefit from it.
‘It’s not even for us, I’m 26 years old, I am nine years playing inter-county football and I might never get travel expenses. It’s for the girls coming up, that we can make ladies football more attractive, and that we can get equality and be the same as the men representing at the highest level.
‘It’s creating that culture and making it a better place for young girls coming up.’
Last week, addressing the Oireachtas Committee, Gemma Begley of the WGPA highlighted that, ‘the 2020 Government Grant Scheme for female inter-county players allocated €700,000 to inter-county teams while male players received €3m in individual grants.’
Begley pointed out that it’s a funding disparity of 77 per cent.
Cork forward O’Sullivan highlighted, too, that last season players had to travel on their own to inter-county games. The Rebels played in Tralee, Parnell Park in Dublin and Croke Park.
‘Our county board did cover some of that expense but in terms of the grand scheme of things and going to training three nights a week, there has been no progress or improvement on that front, which is disappointing,’ O’Sullivan explained.
‘Our county board, our sponsors, I don’t think that’s the way it’s going to be resolved. They are doing loads for us but we do need Government funding to support this and bring ladies football to a new level, and to make it more attractive for girls.’