‘We can’t get any pitch facilities with lights’ – All-Ireland champions set for new season

GALWAY CAMOGIE CAPTAIN Sarah Dervan, and Cork Ladies star Erika O’Shea have expressed their support for a motion going before GAA Congress regarding a merger of the GAA, LGFA and the Camogie Association.  

The motion has been submitted by the GPA, and requests that the GAA “prioritise integration with the LGFA and Camogie Association in order to jointly ensure equal investment, recognition and opportunity for all genders to play all sports in the Gaelic Games family.”

Both Dervan and O’Shea hope that the motion is approved at Congress on 26 February, and that all players belong to the one GAA unit going forward.

Dervan captained Galway to their second senior All-Ireland camogie title in three years last September after a tense battle with Cork. But despite their success, Cathal Murray’s side are still hampered by inequalities.

“Unfortunately, we are in the middle of it,” the Mullagh defender begins. “Tonight we’re training on astroturf because we can’t get any pitch facilities with lights. So it is a real struggle for us. We’ve trained on astro an awful lot this year so far and we’re thankful of getting it, but it’s not ideal.

“We’re playing Dublin on Saturday so it’s not ideal preparation for the first round of the league.

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“You are curtailed a lot with what you can do on astroturf. You can do a bit of ball work, the speed work. You wouldn’t really do much of your fitness on that because if you’re a bit of an older one like myself, it does take it’s toll on you but unfortunately it is the way it is. Hopefully this merger will happen sooner rather than later and all parties will be under the one umbrella.

“It’ll be massive for the Ladies Football and Camogie Association to be interlinked with the GAA. It’ll be a huge positive.”

Dervan adds with frustration that accessibility is an ongoing issue for the Galway camogie team, and that they are forced to rely on the kindness of clubs to avail of their training facilities. 

Cork’s O’Shea echoes similar sentiments regarding the basic requirements for training. Her county has been a dominant force in Ladies Football in recent times, capturing 11 All-Ireland titles between 2005 and 2016. But even with that collection of silverware, Cork teams have still struggled with getting basic provisions in place for their players. 

“I feel like the lads don’t have that problem,” says O’Shea.

Cork’s Erik

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I remember when we’re training at minor and we actually won the All-Ireland that year, we couldn’t find a pitch, we were training on the side of a pitch. We were running up and down the side of a pitch. Those kind of things are disheartening. A merger would make such a big difference. It would be good for women in sport and keep a lot of girls involved.

“All my team-mates want to see the merger happening. It would change everything for girls in sport The WGPA and the GAA joined and that has made a big difference.”

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If a total merger does get voted in at Congress, Dervan hopes that the new association will be designed to ensure that all four codes are treated equally, and that the female sports are not overlooked once the integration is complete.

“Absolutely, everything needs to be equal. The senior teams for the Galway hurlers, camogie, men’s footballers and women’s would be all equal and we’d all get a fair share of facilities, funding, everything.

“It’s the only way forward and all it can do is bring positives, especially for young girls starting out playing camogie, that they don’t have this divide. That we’re all one umbrella, one family and it shouldn’t matter, you have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Sarah Dervan and Erika O’Shea were speaking at the brand launch of “In the Zone” by East Coast Bakehouse, which has been endorsed as “The Official Protein Cookies & Biscuits of the GAA/GPA” as The Players Choice.

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– Originally published at 5:52pm

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