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'It's hard to see how men got €3m and women only got €700,000... Stone Age stuff'

The difference in funding for male and female players came before a Dail Committee session this week.

Updated Apr 30th 2021, 3:00 PM

GALWAY CAMOGIE CAPTAIN Sarah Dervan says the financial inequality between men and women in sport is “Stone Age” stuff and says she wants to see more parity between the genders.

gpa-return-to-play-media-event Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

This issue came before the Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht this week, where members voiced their anger about the current situation for women in sport.

CEO of the Camogie Association, Sinéad McNulty, and Gemma Begley of the GPA/WGPA were among those who spoke during the session, and outlined the funding issues affecting female players.

It was revealed that male players in the GAA receive over €3m in Government grants while their female counterparts are given just over €700,000 annually.

Under a proposal by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, the committee agreed to write to the Department of Sport and request that a task force be set-up to consider all aspects of funding for female sport.

“It’s brilliant to see that it did get the airtime that it did in the Oireachtas,” says Dervan.

“Funding is an issue, I would love to see it equal. I watched back everything that was said and it’s hard to see how the men got 3million euros and the women in sport only got 700,000 so I’d love to see that equal across all codes and genders.

“It’s definitely something we need to work on.

“It’s huge to see politicians putting the hand up and recognising that this is an issue. From the leveling the playing field report that the WGPA brought out, to see that 69% of female athletes pay for their own gym, 92% that don’t get compensation for travel [expenses].

“It’s fine for people [who are] working, but students that have to prioritise training over part-time work, they are actually out of pocket. You want to see that gone, that’s Stone Age stuff. We want to see women in sport coming to the fore and being seen as equal to the men. And that some day, not too far in the future, we’ll just call it sport.”

gpa-return-to-play-media-event Doireann O’Sullivan, Sarah Dervan, Paul Geaney and Dan Morrissey were taking part in the GPA’s Return to Play event to mark the first season where all senior inter-county players are part of the one player association. Source: SPORTSFILE

When asked how playing inter-county camogie impacts her own finances, Dervan said:

“Thankfully, I’m working in Galway so training is never too far away. I suppose I don’t really think about it too much in terms of I just get on with because it’s so normal which is shocking I think.

“It’s just become the norm that we do that, that we pay for our own hurls, we look after ourselves. Players pay for their own gym. In this day and age, it’s not good enough. Camogie and Ladies football are at such an elite level now, we want to make sure they get the showcase they deserve and be able to put their best foot forward.

“They can only do that by getting the funding. Personally for me, it’s normal and I just get on with it. I’m fortunate enough to be working full-time. If I was a student, I’d probably have a bigger issue. And I do feel for the girls that are students on our panel.”

On a more positive note, dual players are to be formally recognised by the Camogie Association. A motion was passed at the association’s Congress earlier this month, with 81% of delegates voting to officially recognise those who play both football and camogie.

Dervan hailed the move as “absolutely brilliant” while Cork footballer Doireann O’Sullivan insists that dual players need to guaranteed that fixture clashes will be avoided going forward.

“We have four girls on the panel,” O’Sullivan begins, “who are playing both and it’s just not fair on them at all. They’re out six nights a week, being pulled in different directions and the least those girls deserve is to have fixtures that suit them.

“It would be an unbelievable step forward and a huge progression in terms of women’s sport if we could have it that they met before putting pen to paper and putting dates in the calendar, that these issues could be resolved before we ever take off in 2021.”

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Additionally, the GPA and WGPA announced a historic merger at the end of last year. The move was announced after hold a extraordinary general meeting [EGM] where 100% of GPA delegates and 96% of WGPA delegates voted in favour of joining forces and creating a 4,000-strong association.

Kerry footballer Paul Geaney praised both groups for the progressive decision. 

“I think it’s historic that the two Associations have merged into the one. I think it’s 4,000 strong now. And the return to play is obviously a big part of that.

“It’s needed and it’s great leadership from the GPA to do that. We’ve seen over the last year, different things in society. And equality in sport is a big thing. It’s great to see the GPA leading that.

“I have three sisters and two play with Kerry underage and Dingle as well. Dingle did the same thing; our club is very progressive; they merged the ladies and the men’s clubs together last year and we all have the same facilities.

“I think if every club in the country approached it that way I think it would go a hell of a long way rather the ladies not having dressing rooms to tog out in with all the difficulties we have.”

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