Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Tommy Dickson/INPHO Niamh O'Donoghue (left) alongside the FAI's head of women's football Sue Ronan and FAI vice president Donall Conway.
# A step forward
Delaney promises to grow women's football as FAI makes historic appointment
Niamh O’Donoghue will join the association’s board of management at next month’s AGM.

IT HAS BEEN a turbulent year for women’s football in Ireland.

Back in April, the senior international team went on strike to protest about their working conditions before an agreement was eventually reached with the FAI.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, chief executive John Delaney was keen to move on from that situation and look ahead to the future.

“That issue is resolved now and I don’t think there’s any point in re-opening it,” he said.

“I just hope that the girls go on and qualify for a World Cup. We’ve invested in [manager] Colin Bell and it would be tremendous for the FAI and for the girls if they get to a major tournament.”

In what appears to be a step in the right direction, Niamh O’Donoghue will next month be appointed to the association’s board of management as part of the merger with the WFAI (Women’s Footballl Association of Ireland) — becoming the first woman to do so.

Having Niamh O’Donoghue come in is important, and we may well look at appointing a second woman to the board before the year is out,” Delaney added.

“It must be noted that [having a woman on the board] was something we agreed to with the WFAI well in advance of any discussion of women’s representation on boards.”

Earlier this year, Delaney was voted onto Uefa’s Executive Committee and, since taking up the new European role, he has been named vice chairperson of the Women’s Committee as well as chairperson of the Youth and Amateur Committee (which covers U17s, U19s and the Regions Cup).

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Promising to put more resources into developing the sport in Ireland, he said: “I would intend to use the role as vice chairperson of the women’s game to increase the number of women in football in Europe but also to help matters back in Ireland in terms of growing numbers.

“We have spoken to the government and will be making further submissions about increased money in the women’s game. We’ve made applications over the last couple of years.

“Because of the tight budget constraints I understand why they weren’t supported but you’d hope that into the future  there would be more money for growing women’s soccer — not only at the highest level but also at grassroots.”

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