2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Interview with Geraldine Giles

Ladies Football Association President Comments on Player Grant Issues

THE immediate priority for the Ladies Football Association is to increase funding for county committees to aid the development and enhancement of the game. And while the Government has recently approved a grants package for inter-county hurling and football teams, Association President Geraldine Giles argues that their players are just as dedicated but don’t receive anything like the perks available to the men’s teams.

“I think there has to be equality across the board if there is to be anything,’’ she said yesterday in Dubai where she is leading the group of 40 elite players who will be involved in Saturday’s TG4/O’Neills Allstars exhibition game.

“The commitment given by our players is huge and anybody that’s involved would see the immensity of it. But there is a different situation between the ladies and the men’s teams training at present – where with many of the men’s teams a lot is handed to them. The girls have to work hard in conjunction with their managers, with their selectors and with the county board in ensuring that things are in place for them to achieve success.

“There’s no doubt about it, when they do reach an All-Ireland final it’s a little easier for the like of Cork, Mayo and Galway. Funds flow in a little easier, but for the majority of counties out there it’s a struggle every day of the week. However, our focus is on where we are at the moment in terms of developing the Association, rolling out a strategic plan and maybe reviewing that in the coming year,’’ she stated.

“We don’t believe in pay-for-play and I would like to see that we’d be able to help our county boards as opposed to players and individuals as such. A lot of our county boards are struggling at the moment. Our RDO’s (Regional Development officers) are on the ground and doing a lot of work in putting structures in place.
“That is where we have to focus – strengthening the structures behind the success that we have seen in the growth of the game.’’

While they are unlikely to see their players benefit directly, Giles acknowledges the financial support which Cumann Peil Gael na mBan currently receive from exchequer funds. “Our grants situation has grown over the years,’’ she added. “We have come from very low ebb to very substantial grants, thanks both to the Government and the Sports Council. They have seen the growth of our Association and they have come in behind it and helped us with that growth. We are happy that going forward we have a good based there and we’d like to maintain that.

“While there is still a need to develop the game at home, it is continuously growing  internationally as well. A lot of our overseas units can see the strength of it, yet a lot of work remains to be done in places like London – and Great Britain as a whole to. A lot of work has gone into the game in New York, starting at grassroots level and it’s big in Australia, as a result of which the demand is there for an international tournament.

“We host one every three years and teams will be coming over in the run-up to the All-Ireland finals. We’ll have six teams, from Canada, Australasia, North America, New York, Europe and the UK. And, if it’s anything like the competition the last time around it will be fantastic!’’

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