Galway and NUIG Ladies Footballer, Siobhan Divilly, has praised the impact that the growth of the sport has had on the players.
Last September, a record-breaking crowd of 50,141 attended the All Ireland final clash between Dublin and Cork, almost double that of the 27,374-strong crowd present in the 2014 final between the same counties.
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association have also welcomed a number of high-profile sponsors on board over the past number of years, and Divilly maintains that the rise in profile has drastically improved matters for the players.
“It’s massive like, a couple of years ago nobody had heard about ladies football when you mentioned you were going training and people would laugh at you, it was non-existent. But especially now with the increased media and everyone hearing about it, it’s great for the sport.”
“There are bigger crowds at games, we’re getting recognition, we are getting fed maybe after training which wasn’t a thing, getting more gear which sounds like it’s not important but you do look like a bit of a fool if you turn up to a match and everyone is like multi-coloured.”
“It just makes it more professional and it’s even the appeal of the sport, more people are starting to play and it’s bringing up the standard for everyone else in the country.”
Comparisons are often being made between the standards of ladies football and camogie, and while Divilly admits that her sport is currently more publicised, that does not detract from the quality of camogie games.
“I went to my first camogie match last year and the standard it was absolutely unbelievable like, the effort that some of the girls but it is crazy. In Galway, in particular, they’d be playing both sports and they value both sports as the same.”
“Definitely, maybe ladies football gets a bit more coverage and it’s recognised more, but camogie, from what I think, is just as good as ladies football and just as enjoyable to watch as ladies football, and hurling and men’s football.”
While the midfielder is continuing preparations for the O’Connor Cup with her college, she has decided to take a break from the inter-county scene to travel, a decision that has been “coming for a few years.”
“It’s my last summer that I am going to be able to go travelling so, during last year I was saying ‘I’m going to do it’ and I just had to do it or I’d regret and I’d probably be annoyed playing football, I’d be blaming football in the future.”
“You do get sick of it, like last year, for the beginning of the year it was college and pre-season county, then summer all county, and then winter we were straight back into club then our club went all the way to the middle of November, so we had no break for a solid year.”
“So, maybe the summer will be a good chance to reignite that hunger to come back (to county).”
THE 2019 Gourmet Food Parlour HEC Ladies Football Third-Level Championships were launched today (Tuesday, January 22) at GFP’s Northwood (Santry) outlet – with a record number of teams and players set to compete.
The stunning growth of Ladies Football in Third-Level Colleges has coincided with Gourmet Food Parlour’s sponsorship of the Ladies HEC Leagues and Championships.