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O’Connell confirms female footballers are still shut out of Kerry Centre of Excellence

“I assume the county boards have been in talks but we haven’t seen any difference,” O’Connell explained.

Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

IT IS JUST over a month since experienced Kerry forward Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh expressed frustration with the Munster finalists’ limited access to the county’s state-of-the-art training facilities at Currans.

As Aishling O’Connell explains, there have been some new developments, but none of them leads to that particular training facility. 

“No, unfortunately, we haven’t been back there. I think we were there maybe once since winning the Division 2 league. But we’ve been in IT Tralee for the last month and we’ve been there consistently which is great.

“We actually got to train in Fitzgerald Stadium before the Munster final as well, which was great.

 ”But unfortunately we haven’t been back to Currans.” 

Cork prevailed in the Munster final 2-11 to 1-9 at Fitzgerald Stadium. Even still, the fact Kerry were able to access the ground proved favourable for their young crop. 

As O’Connell stresses, there are new faces in the squad who benefited from a trial run. The defender has been a Kerry footballer for seven years. The near-constant frustration regarding access to pitches to train on can be irksome. 

“We hadn’t been there this year but previous years, we would have had the opportunity to play and train there if we had a match coming up. The men’s and women’s county board are good that way. If the pitch is available, they’ll give it to us.

“I’m not sure where the men train, they obviously weren’t training there that weekend but it was lovely for the girls.

“Even the new girls this year, I don’t think they had trained there before, so it was great to get that over and done with before the big match.”

It was different last year when they trained regularly at the €8m campus in Currans. In the aftermath of her team-mate’s comments, Kerry GAA maintained discussions were continuing with the Kerry LGFA in relation to their use of the Centre of Excellence. 

How does it sit with the squad? Has there been any change since? 

“It is disappointing but as players in the team, we’ve made a decision not to really think about it because we’re blessed that we have been in IT Tralee consistently. I suppose before that, in the winter, it was very hard to get pitches because pitches were being minded and clubs are going to prioritise their club teams which is fair enough.

“But I suppose I had thought that we would be back there considering that Louise brought a bit of light to it which was great, and we all back her and everything she said. But I’m unsure. I assume the county boards have been in talks but we haven’t seen any difference.”

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For now, they will continue to control what they can. On the field, Kerry secured a 3-10 to 3-8 shock win over Galway last weekend. 

For O’Connell, it was the perfect response to their provincial decider loss. They righted some wrongs, turned weaknesses into strengths and kicked on. 

“We lost the Munster final against Cork and that was very disappointing for the group, and getting an opportunity to rectify that was massive for us. Galway were coming in off the back of a massive Connacht championship win against Mayo so they were definitely favourites going into it. 

 ”But we were delighted that we had worked on the mistakes we made against Cork – our scoring percentages and kick-outs. It was brilliant to actually put it into action on Saturday to get the win.”

AIG ambassador Aishling O’Connell was speaking at the launch of AIG’s new For Times Like These campaign. In addition, AIG also announced their LGFA member and player car insurance offer of 25% off for players and 15% off for all members across the country at www.aig.ie/lgfa

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Maurice Brosnan

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