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'Heartbroken' and 'disgusted' - Outrage among county minor teams after cancellations but no change in sight

Dublin and Waterford minor ladies football teams launch online petitions after competitions impacted.

A general view of footballs.
A general view of footballs.

MINOR INTER-COUNTY LADIES football teams across the country are up in arms over how their competitions have been impacted amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

With the 2020 All-Ireland minor championship series no longer going ahead, the provincial bodies have various different plans.

Dublin — who are now calling for a Leinster championship — and Waterford — who want the All-Ireland series reinstated — are two teams who have shared their grievances online.

The Sky Blues’ petition is entitled, “For LGFA to allow the County Minor Ladies Leinster championship go ahead in 2020″ while Waterford followed suit with their own: “Petition to the LGFA for the reinstation of the 2020 Minor All Ireland Series.

In a statement in March, the LGFA outlined that there was the “possibility of provincial action depending on when activities resume” for minors (and U16s, while U14 was cancelled) and in turn, declined to comment on the current situation when approached by The42 today.

The responsibility of potential championship clashes now lies with provincial bodies.

A Munster LGFA spokesperson this morning confirmed to The42 that they would run provincial competitions at all underage levels. U16 and U14 county teams will contest seeded Munster finals, while the minor competition will recommence later in the year in line with LGFA guidelines.

Leinster LGFA, however, will stage no underage inter-county football in 2020. 

The42 understands that this is due to a limited timeframe and already hectic schedule — inter-county football matches can’t resume until 17 October — and the crossover of minor players on adult club and county teams.

“We are supporting their club football,” a spokesperson said, “and we are in the very early stages of planning for next year.”

The GAA’s U17 inter-county championship will go ahead. If it didn’t, most of those players would not have football as U17 players cannot play on adult teams. There is very little crossover between age groups in GAA, which is common in ladies football.

Meanwhile, the LGFA’s senior, intermediate and junior inter-county championships are going ahead on an All-Ireland series basis, following a new-look format which will be played across seven weekends from mid-October. The draw takes place tomorrow night.

Ladies football adult club action across the country will be run off from 17 July, in line with the GAA, differing from county to county.

The statements from the Dublin and Waterford minor ladies football teams are as follows:

“Us Dublin minor ladies have been training for the Leinster Championship since last September,” Dublin minor player Hannah Howard writes.

“As a group, we have missed many occasions and celebrations with family and friends due to our hard work and commitment to our county, we were willing to do so as we were determined to win a Leinster title.

“Due to the coronavirus, we were informed that our Leinster championship was cancelled for 2020, as players we are heartbroken as we feel like our hard work and commitment we put in while the majority of us were studying for the Leaving Cert was for nothing.

The Fingallians star added: “The Minor lads championship is continuing and for us ladies it is difficult to watch them continue their season when we ladies have put in just as much time and commitment as them boys, for it to be taken away from us and forgotten about for the year.”

“Us ladies want to fight for our season to continue on and hopefully win a Leinster title so please support us!”

A comment underneath from team manager Anthony Cooke reads:

“This group have been a pleasure to coach this year and their commitment along with the commitment of all minor inter-county teams is incredible and they deserve the chance to play.”

The Waterford statement outlines the team’s journey so far, from their first training session on early November 2019 to the trials and tribulations which followed.

“Unfortunately, just as we began to see a light at the end of the tunnel and club training resumed, our minor team received our biggest blow to date,” the statement reads.

“Recently, we learned that there will be no LGFA 2020 Minor All-Ireland Series. Of course, we as a team are undoubtedly heartbroken.

We are beyond disgusted at the hypocrisy of the LGFA to promote the slogan “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it” while simultaneously cancelling underage inter-county games.

“Of course, we understand that these are new and challenging times for the governing body of the LGFA and everyone involved. However, we as a team refuse to accept this decision. If our male counterparts in the GAA are allowed to continue with their All-Ireland campaign, why should we accept the fact that we will not be given the same opportunity to contest an All-Ireland championship this year?

“We are disappointed that we have been forced to involve the public, but we will not ignore this blatant act of disregard, discrimination and sexism. We have made too many sacrifices both on and off the pitch, to simply sit back and watch as our dream is being slowly stripped away.

“Club and county have co-existed concurrently together in the past and we do not understand why our inter-county games cannot be scheduled into the LGFA calendar. This is why your support is so vital to our cause. With your help we are hopeful that the LGFA will reconsider their rash decision to cancel our games.”

“All girls all over Ireland want to play football,” a comment underneath from Limerick ladies minor manager Aideen Fitzpatrick reads.

“This is the age we lose so many. Don’t put up a barrier to them! #20X20 ????? Remember the year we tried to achieve.”

This outrage follows that in camogie circles last week when the Camogie Association confirmed its decision to cancel the All-Ireland minor championship. Instead, it will played out within the provinces.

A petition was launched over the decision, but the Association defended its views with a spokesperson telling The42 that a “limited timeframe” available in 2020 and the “crossover between minor teams and adult inter-county teams” were factors behind the cancellation.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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