The standard of women’s Gaelic Games has risen exponentially over the past decade, and the proof is in the pudding. However, some of our top female stars still have gripes over how their respective sports are run compared to that of the men’s game.
Pundit Arena recently sat down with two top Camogie stars who both highlighted clear imbalances that need to be addressed, with Waterford Camogie captain, Niamh Rockett telling us there would be no Camogie in 20 years time without rule changes.
“Camogie players, as opposed to a couple of years ago, are way stronger now, fitter now, doing more gym work than ever.” Rockett told Pundit Arena.
“There are sometimes 28 or 30 frees in a game, girls are stronger so they are going into tackles stronger but you are not allowed to shoulder in camogie so referees are going to blow it.”
Rockett’s views are not only shared by Camogie players but by their colleagues in Ladies Football also.
When Rockett’s sentiments were put to Monaghan star, Muireann Atkinson, she agreed, claiming that it was a problem that tied in with Ladies Football.
“Most people are giving out about the lack of physicality in the game, and that ties in with Ladies football as well. It can get very frustrating at times.
“I’d be known as quite a physical player in midfield, but you can get blown up for frees in games for your physicality, whereas if you look at the men they are able to hit hard.
“We’re training in S&C and doing everything else they do, so you kind of ask yourself the question ‘why can’t we play the physical game like the men do?’ Why are we doing doing S&C training if we aren’t able to use the strength we have? That’s probably where the Camogie players are coming from.
“It’s frustrating, if you feel you’ve an asset to yourself, but you can’t use that because you’re not able to shoulder then that needs to be a re-addressment in both games.
“If players are growing into athletes, the game should allow it and it’s prohibiting us at the minute from being as good as we can be.”
Another imbalance that exists is the perceived perks that come with men playing top-level inter-county that doesn’t seem to exist in the women’s game
Cork’s four-time All-Ireland winner Amy O’Connor lamented the sponsorship opportunities that are afforded to the men, whereas in some cases it is costing women to play top-level GAA.
“It boils my blood, it just boils my blood” O’Connor told Pundit Arena.
“We put in the same hours and I actually think it’s a lot harder to be a female inter-county player than male… at times, at times I say and I’ll go back to that because there are girls on our panel from West Cork, travelling five times a week to training, it’s two hours and not a cent of petrol do they get, whereas the men are getting paid by the mile.”
Atkinson also highlighted the costs that come with playing GAA, costs that men don’t have to worry about.
“At the start of the year, you are telling girls these are all the pieces of the puzzle we need to reach our maximum potential, and some girls do it because they are obsessed with the sport, but others are looking at you thinking ‘we give up five or six nights of the week and what exactly are we getting back from it only the love of the sport?’ and you don’t really have much to say back to them.” Atkinson said.
“It’s costing us to play this sport, it’s not costing the men. They are getting plentiful resources, travelling expenses, we are definitely losing out on money playing this and it’s frustrating when you are spending so much money and so much time on it.
“Every single player on a team deserves something for their efforts and I think travelling expenses should be the bare minimum and it’s not even mentioned at the minute.
“I think it actually starts with us, we need to start asking for more, we need to start demanding more and if you ask for me you might get a little bit more. if u ask for less youll get less. So we need to start asking for more, it’s up to everyone.”