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Ireland legend calls for more female representation on new FAI board

Áine O’Gorman earned 100 caps for her country before retiring from international duty last year.

Áine O'Gorman earned 100 caps for Ireland.
Áine O'Gorman earned 100 caps for Ireland.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FORMER INTERNATIONAL STAR Áine O’Gorman believes there should be more female representation on the new board for the Football Association of Ireland, while ensuring a greater emphasis is put on the Women’s National League.

The previous FAI board was criticised for its lack of female representation and it was only in 2017 when Niamh O’Donoghue became the first female to be elected.

Rea Walshe has also gained a prominent role of late, taking on the position of interim chief executive last March when John Delaney stepped aside, while it was recently confirmed that Walshe would revert to Chief Operating Officer following Noel Mooney’s appointment as ‘General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships.’

A new FAI board has yet to be decided upon amid this transitional period, but O’Gorman would like to see it include individuals intent on developing the women’s game in this country.

“Definitely,” said O’Gorman, when asked if the board needs greater female representation. “I think that’s very important. I think it’s important that there’s player representation even from the PFAI and there’s female representation. So hopefully the board becomes more balanced. And that will benefit the greater [picture for] football of women’s football and football in Ireland.”

While significant strides have been made, particularly by the Irish women’s national team in recent years, the situation with the Women’s National League has remained problematic.

Speaking to The42 earlier this month, former Peamount manager Eileen Gleeson said the WNL was being hindered by a lack of professionalism and inadequate standards at times, and O’Gorman echoes this view.

“The quality of the league when I started was really up there. I think the standards were set pretty high. Although there are more teams playing in it now, you’re wondering is the quality still there [compared with] the first season.

“How to improve it? I don’t know. I think there are [different] standards all over throughout. I know people are trying to improve things as well.

In the men’s league, you still have teams threatening to strike and all that, but when that settles down, you think: ‘Will our league have to go semi-professional?’ There are girls that go off and play Gaelic football, so just to try to keep them interested in the league, it’s something more to play for and increase prize money and things like that. That then will hopefully increase sponsorship opportunities.

“There are great opportunities for girls to go abroad and play professional football, so you can’t really blame them for that.

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“But when you see matches getting called off, because teams can’t field [11 players] at the highest level of the Women’s National League and referees not turning up some weeks, it doesn’t do [any favours] for the reputation. But so far this season, there haven’t been any complaints, so hopefully things are improving and on the up.”

On the pitch, meanwhile, the situation could not be much better for O’Gorman. She is part of a Peamount side currently top of the Women’s National League, securing eight wins from eight matches, which leaves them five points ahead of nearest rivals Wexford Youths. The Dublin side face Galway in PRL Park at 6.30pm today, as they bid to maintain their 100% start to the season.

30-year-old O’Gorman balances her football with work as a personal trainer, while the Enniskerry native also combined these commitments with international football up until last year, when she retired having earned 100 caps.

I don’t miss it at the moment. I’m just busy playing club football and working and I did my Uefa B coaching badge.

“Maybe my feelings might change when the qualifiers for the European Championships start again. But who knows? I’m happy with my decision now and where I am in my life.”

Gavan Casey is joined by Ryan Bailey and Andy Dunne to look ahead to Saturday’s Pro14 final, look at whether Joey Carbery’s move has paid off and Jack Conan talks about how his body is holding up.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Paul Fennessy

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