More women should coach - McHale
Mayo footballer Fiona McHale has called on more women to get involved in coaching and says there is no reason why they couldn't successfully coach men's teams either.
"There's so many brilliant women out there who used to play football and who have gone away from the sport," she says. "You'd really wonder why, and love to think they'd get involved in the management or coaching side of things, especially as they know exactly what it takes to win."
McHale (29) is already involved in coaching, despite still starring at midfield for a resurgent Mayo this season.
In the past four years she has successfully coached and then jointly managed the University of Limerick's women's team, who have won two of the last three third-level colleges' titles. She believes there are no logical impediments to a woman coaching a men's team. "I really don't think (male) players would have a problem with it," McHale said.
"You earn respect as a coach. A female coach (with a men's team) might possibly have to do a little more to earn that respect compared to a man, but I still think that, if you have the credibility, there's no reason why you can't do the job."
She pointed out that Angie McNally (ex-Dub) has already trained a men's club team and Julie Davis (currently head of high performance with Armagh GAA) has worked with the Kildare and Cavan men's teams. "I'd love to think that there will be a female county manager in the future," said McHale, a PE graduate who teaches sport and anatomy at the Limerick College of Further Education. Even within women's sport there is a still a huge gender imbalance in coaching and management.
The likes of Mary Jo Curran (Kerry), Nadine Doherty (Westmeath), Niamh McEvoy (Dublin), Elaine Harte (Tipperary) and Jenny Rispin (Meath) feature in inter-county back-rooms at present.
But Paula Cunningham (Monaghan) is currently the only female county manager in women's Gaelic football, and that mirrors international trends. Women made up 41pc of Britain's team at the last Olympics yet only 10pc of their coaches were women.
McHale was speaking at the launch of the Women's Gaelic Players Association's new 'Be You - Belong' self-esteem campaign in partnership with 'Jigsaw', the youth mental health arm of Headstrong. She has won five All-Ireland titles with Carnacon, and has always had a strong female role model within her club.
"Beatrice Casey and Jimmy Corbett trained me from U-14 right up. Beatrice has always been the voice we hear in the dressing room and that's what I'm used to." * To find out more about the 'BeyouBelong' campaign, see www.wgpa.ie and Facebook