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GAA must bring LGFA in under its umbrella

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Former Kerry goalkeeper Eamonn Fitzgerald believes the time is right for the men’s and women’s governing bodies to join forces

There will be plenty of business on the agenda for this weekend’s GAA Congress. I will be keeping interested eyes on the motion to bring the LGFA and the Camogie Association fully under the umbrella of the GAA. Larry McCarthy can make his name as President by curing this long festering sore.

In some cases, women in the GAA have been treated as though they are of lesser importance than men. Misogyny, or a fear of a takeover? Who does so much of the work for the GAA?

The women, of course. Conceiving and bearing the players of the future. Encouraging them from the sidelines.

Go to any Saturday morning academy and see who does most of the ferrying of the young boys and girls to the local pitch? Mná na hÉireann for the most part. Click and collect in action. Only the broad-minded clubs give equality of access to the ladies, for usage of the pitches for training and playing matches.

Increasingly, clubs are depending on the female members to take up demanding positions on the executives. The Kilcummin GAA club has set out a marker with ladies in all of the main positions on the executive. What’s more, far too often the LGFA has to raise its own funds to continue its programmes.

I was delighted to see that the FAI and the IRFU have moved towards some equality for the sexes, especially in respect of the international teams getting equal remuneration for representing their county. Begrudgery curtailed that enlightened approach for far too long, but better late than never.

I hope the GAA will do the right thing tomorrow and support this move for equality. The LGFA is not under the official banner of the GAA. It’s time to get in under that umbrella, otherwise there will be a new storm brewing to equal Eunice et al.

LONG WAIT

When I interviewed Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh many years ago for this column and asked him for his wish for the GAA in the future, he had no hesitation in his reply.

“That the GAA will elect a woman as Uachtarán (President) for the first time ever, to lead us on to great things for the organisation.”

I think that was for Mícheál’s 80th birthday. He is still hale, hearty and enthusiastic as ever heading for 92. Mo bhrón and o chón, no sign of a breakthrough on that enlightened vision.

I know of a least one lady in waiting - ready, willing and able to wear that symbolic chain. There may be other unannounced candidates. Maybe Patrick O’Sullivan, the chairman of the Kerry County Board, will help expedite Mícheál’s vision.

The LGFA are a separate entity to the GAA and do not have the resources of their male counterparts, such as playing pitches etc. The Laois ladies team could not play in the county’s centre of excellence because they were priced out of it.

I do recall when Liam O’Neill was president of the GAA he tried to get the LGFA to come in under the GAA umbrella, but the LGFA didn’t come in. I wonder why? Hopefully, there will be support for the motion tomorrow, but knowing how the civil service of the GAA works, especially at convention and at congress levels, the best one can hope for is agreement on principle and a committee appointed to look into it. Reporting back will be a slow burner.

Over to you Larry, the President of the GAA (with strong Killarney connections).

EMBRACING

Many years ago Denis Conroy (Cork) highlighted the growing problem of how difficult it was to get men to become club officers. He made a passionate plea at congress, cocluding: “In the name of God, to save the GAA, what we need to do is to embrace the women of Ireland.”

Gerald McKenna, Chairman of the Kerry County Board at that time, who was famous for his witty one-liners, replied.

“I would like to assure Mr Conroy that we are doing just that in Kerry for centuries.”

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Ladies’ Semi-Final Preview: Armagh stand between Kerry and a third shot at glory

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

Kerry v Armagh

Saturday 7.15pm

O’Connor Park, Tullamore

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies are just 60 minutes away from their third All-Ireland final in a row but they will have to bring their ‘A’ game to overcome the challenge of Armagh at O’Connor Park in Offaly later today.

The Kingdom have been installed as competition favourites after beating Meath (and after champions Dublin lost to Galway) in the quarters and they should be in confident form following that victory over the Royals in Tralee a fortnight ago.

However, they are unlikely to have it all their own way against an Armagh side who have beaten them twice already this season, in the league in March and then in the league final in Croke Park in April.

Losing star player Aimee Mackin to an ACL injury in the Ulster final came as a tremendous blow to the Orchard County. Mackin scored 2-6 (2-5 from play) and 1-4 (1-2) from play in the two games against Kerry this year so her teammates will have to make up the difference in her absence.

Kerry, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the return from an ACL injury of Síofra O’Shea, who scored 0-3 off the bench against Meath. The skilful trio of Danielle O’Leary (1-28, 3f), Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (2-15, 9f) and Emma Dineen (4-5) have accounted for the bulk of the team’s scores this season with Hannah O’Donoghue and team captain Niamh Carmody also capable of finding the target.

Managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long will be hoping that this attacking threat coupled with the teak tough defending of Eilís Lynch, Deirdre Kearney and Aishling O’Connell will be enough to see them over the line. With the dependable Ciara Butler between the sticks, Kerry have kept three clean sheets in their last four games which is a record they would love to improve upon today.

Armagh, who haven’t played in a senior ladies’ football All-Ireland final since 2006, arrive at the semi-final stage on the back of wins over Meath and Mayo. Eve Lavery is their top scorer to date with 0-11 (7f) to her name. Blaithin Mackin, younger sister of Aimee, has chipped in with 1-5.

Kerry v Armagh will be preceded at O’Connor Park by the other All-Ireland semi-final between Galway and Cork. The Rebels last made the final in 2020 while The Tribeswomen are aiming to reach their first decider since 2019. Both counties lost to Dublin in those respective finals.

Galway v Cork starts at 5pm. Both matches will be shown live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, D Kearney, A Dillane; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody (captain), D O’Leary, N Ní Chonchúir; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Armagh: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge (captain), R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, B Mackin; E Lavery, N Henderson, K Mallon.

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Jordan Lee vows to bounce back as injury ends 2024 Paralympic dream

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Killarney high jumper Jordan Lee is determined to bounce back stronger than ever after announcing his withdrawal from the Paralympic Selection Process due to injury.

The Killarney Valley AC athlete, who represented Ireland at the Tokyo Games in 2021, was hoping to wear the green singlet again in Paris in August/September but he was forced to pull out “due to an injury that had developed over the past couple of weeks”.

“[To say that I’m] absolutely gutted is an understatement considering the season that we’ve just had and being ranked number 6 in the world rankings on the lead-up,” Lee said via Instagram.

“This is sport at the highest level and unfortunately this is an injury that couldn’t turn right in time for Paris which is only a few weeks away.”

The local lad went on to thank Killarney Valley and his coaches Tomás Griffin, Alan Delaney and Shane O’Rourke for their support, as well as his sponsors PTSB, Puma, Toyota, Kellihers Garage and Output Sports.

“To my family and my friends, I’ve always repped that Irish vest with the utmost pride, not just representing myself and my beautiful country, but my amazing family and friends that I have too. I love ye all.

“Wishing my teammates within Paralympics Ireland all the very best in Paris.

“Roll on 2025 for the Europeans. I’ll be back better and ready for vengeance. Believe that.”

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