independent

Saturday 29 April 2017

Aine glad to return to on-field matters

Soccer

Aine O’Gorman of the Republic of Ireland during squad training at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin
Aine O’Gorman of the Republic of Ireland during squad training at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin

With one of the hardest weeks of her sporting life behind her, Aine O'Gorman was simply delighted to get back to her bread and butter on Monday.

The Enniskerry woman was one of over a dozen members of the Republic of Ireland's WNT that staged a press conference last Tuesday to bring long-standing issues within the international side to light.

Top of the list was the loss of earnings that the players suffered and the humiliating requirement to remove their FAI tracksuits in airport toilets in order to dish them out to underage squads.

Such revelations sent shockwaves throughout the country. There was talk of a strike, something O'Gorman insists would have been a 'last resort' but the squad did withdraw from a planned training session the following day.

But all the stress and hardship was worth it as the FAI and the WNT struck a compromise in the wee hours of Friday morning, meaning that Monday's game against Slovakia, which Ireland won 1-0, could proceed as planned.

"It's been mixed emotions! We obviously had to resort to drastic measures to get an end result which was what we felt the team needed for the future of women's football but we got there in the end and now we can concentrate on football again."

O'Gorman is as loyal and dedicated as they come so the decision to proceed with last week's plan was not taken lightly.

"I think we were all very nervous. We were completely out of our comfort zone and we didn't really want to be there but we had to do what we had to do.

"It's something that we felt very strongly about and something that we needed to do for the future of women's football but it's disappointing that it had to come to that. There were a few butterflies in the stomach but it all turned out for the best in the end."

Social media exploded as details of their woes were revealed. Fast forward to Thursday evening and the same group were sitting down with the FAI to hammer out an agreement and it went on a lot longer than the UCD Waves captain had anticipated. It also meant that no strike action was necessary, something that nobody truly wanted.

"We were a bit overwhelmed with the reaction. It was great. It really touched us all and it got us to where we needed to go. The tracksuit issue was a problem and it's something that people wouldn't have been aware of but it got picked up by the papers.

"It was a strange situation but the whole team were in it together and we knew it was the right thing to do and that we had to do it for the future of the game. We were stuck in limbo. We were threatened with (the notion) that we were jeopardising our careers but we felt so strongly and we followed through on that and it all turned out for the best.

"We took it day by day. Striking was completely last resort. We didn't go to training on Wednesday because we were going into the mediation process but we're so happy we got it sorted in the end. Nobody wanted to miss training and nobody wanted to miss the match.

"The whole team was there with the representatives of the FAI and SIPTU. We were there since 6pm and we left just after 4am. It was a long process and something that we were completely new to. I thought we were going to be in and out in two hours.

"It's great that we could come to an agreement and we pretty much got everything sorted. I think everyone was just really happy that we could get back on the pitch."

They may be out of the woods but it is far from a rosy garden yet and O'Gorman admits that there is room for work to be done. Speaking prior to Monday's tie with Slovakia, she also spoke of her pride of closing in on a century of caps for the Republic of Ireland.

"It was a really good starting point and we're satisfied with the agreement.

"We need consistency and we need the agreement to be maintained and then progress in the future as well.

"I just take each game as it comes. When I get to the 100 landmark of course it will be special. Hopefully I do manage to get there for myself and my family but I'll just take it a game at a time."

Next on the agenda for O'Gorman and co. are the World Cup qualifiers.

They will begin in September under the guise of new manager Colin Bell, a man that the 27-year old fitness instructor has enjoyed working under thus far.

"He's like a breath of fresh air. He's a very good coach and he produces great training sessions and we always know the gameplan and there's a great belief and freshness around the squad."

Wicklow People

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