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'That's something that needs to change' - Women need to support women in sport, says Tipp star

Aishling Moloney has called on parents – and counties – to encourage younger girls more, and in turn, grow the game of ladies football.

Tipperary star forward Aishling Moloney.
Tipperary star forward Aishling Moloney.
Image: Harry Murphy/SPORTSFILE

TIPPERARY STAR FORWARD Aishling Moloney has re-iterated her firm stance that women must support women if ladies football, and women’s sport in general, is to grow.

While she, like most, feels that ladies football has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years both on and off the field, Moloney believes there is much more to do with regard support and crowds at matches. 

Attendances on All-Ireland final day have increased drastically over the past few years, with 56,114 watching on as Dublin beat Galway in the 2019 decider.

2014: 27,374
2015: 31,083
2016: 34,445
2017: 46,286
2018: 50,141
2019: 56,114

But there’s work to be done to spread that out through the year, rather than just at the marquee event.

Croke Park hosted both All-Ireland semi-finals for the first time ever last summer in an effort to do just that, with 10,886 attending that day.

But Moloney feels that people need to make more of an effort all year around to support their county ladies football team though league and championship.

“Women need to start supporting women too,” the 21-year-old ace said last month.

“You’ll always see parents bringing younger girls and boys to the men’s games but they rarely bring the young girls to the girls’ games. For them it’s great to have role models in both codes, men and women.”

And the 2019 TG4 Intermediate Player of the Year has since doubled down on her sentiments, calling on county boards to encourage younger girls to get involved.

“The main thing is when you go to a men’s game, you’ll always see parents — both male and female — bringing the little girls,” Moloney told The42 at the 2020 Lidl Ladies National Football League launch.

“I often wonder why can’t they bring them [to the ladies football games].

When I was younger, I was brought to the men’s games. I was never brought to the ladies games only for I begged mam and dad to bring me one day. That’s something that needs to change.

“It comes from emphasis from the county as well to start encouraging younger girls, and holding mini games at half time of ours to up the attendance.

“Definitely, we all need to start rowing in together now and driving this forward for the year that it is and the 20×20 campaign.”

orla Moloney's teammate Orla O'Dwyer is playing for Brisbane Lions. Source: Brisbane Lions AFLW.

The impact of the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] on ladies football is something that’s been in the spotlight over the past few days, since Mayo boss Peter Leahy aired his beliefs that it has the “potential to damage” ladies football “quite extensively, and that there should be a rule that players should have to pick one or the other.

With 18 Irishwomen on the books there ahead of the start of the 2020 AFLW season, Moloney recently revealed that she had been approached by several Australian clubs, but her studies in Dublin City University [DCU] and football commitments are keeping her firmly on home soil currently.

With her close college friends Sarah Rowe and Aishling Sheridan plying their trade at Collingwood, and Tipperary duo Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs) and Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions) — the dual star scored her first goal for the side in a pre-season match this week — among those she’s keeping a close eye on, Moloney is happy with her decision to stay put. For now.

“I’m looking at Sarah and the two Aislings over there at the moment and the lovely tanlines that they’re working on while we’re at home here, slogging in the muck for the league,” she laughs.

Look, it’s amazing opportunity for them, you can’t take it away from them. It’s obviously something that’s not on my radar at the minute, maybe in the future, it might be something.

“But I’m looking forward to having the two girls back to Tipperary, it will be a big boost when they come back.”

After an opening round draw with three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin last weekend — in which Moloney scored a late free and accounted for 1-6 (1-3 from play) — Tipperary’s attention now turns to Munster rivals Cork on Sunday.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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