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How Dr Mary McInerney's vision for the future helped shift perceptions and soften gender distinctions and prejudices

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Dr. Mary McInerney pictured at her home in Galway this week with the 1980 All-Ireland medal won by Niall McInerney. . Photo: Ray Ryan

Dr. Mary McInerney pictured at her home in Galway this week with the 1980 All-Ireland medal won by Niall McInerney. . Photo: Ray Ryan

Dr. Mary McInerney pictured at her home in Galway this week with the 1980 All-Ireland medal won by Niall McInerney. . Photo: Ray Ryan

A friend from Galway tells of his mother volunteering an opinion on a GAA match years ago, only to draw a withering response from a man nearby who advised her to “stick to yer women’s talk”. In 1978 Dr Mary McInerney entered the male fortress when when she took on the role of Galway team doctor, the first woman to assume such a position. She wasn’t campaigning for equality or greater recognition for women in sport, but her presence helped shift perceptions and soften gender distinctions and prejudices.

In 1979 during the All-Ireland final between Galway and Kilkenny, Michael O’Hehir hailed McInerney as being a novel figure in the dugout by virtue of her gender. Those were the times. “It was a man’s world,” says Dr Con Murphy, who started with Cork as team doctor in 1976. He crossed paths with McInerney over those years, until she stepped away in 1987 due to pressures of work and family.


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