Saturday 21 April 2018

'We play wherever we can get a pitch' - Leacy

Recipients of the Women’s Gaelic Players Association third level scholarships for 2016 pictured at Druid’s Glen Hotel yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile.
Recipients of the Women’s Gaelic Players Association third level scholarships for 2016 pictured at Druid’s Glen Hotel yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile.

Michael Verney

Imagine having to leave your county to play 'home' games? Such is the situation facing Wexford's ladies as their senior camogie and football teams are forced to relinquish home comforts in the early stages of the League due to pitches being unavailable.

In an unusual development, the Model camogie side were set to travel to Clane in Kildare on Sunday due to a lack of available venues - as well as unplayable pitches - on Slaneyside before the game was later postponed.

A week after Wexford's ladies' footballers gave up home advantage against Tipperary, the camogie side were forced to plan a round-trip of over 200km due to a lack of facilities, and this angers camogie star Una Leacy.

With their training base in the new Centre of Excellence in Ferns not meeting insurance standards for competitive games, the four-time All-Ireland medallist admitted that such problems which males wouldn't contemplate are par for the course for female players.

"There's always been that inequality there when it comes to county and getting pitches. Most of the teams that you're playing, you'd never play in the main county pitch," Leacy said at the WGPA's presentation of 23 third-level scholarships yesterday.

"Wexford Park is our home venue but not many teams would be playing us there. It depends on whether the hurlers or footballers are playing.

"If the hurlers were playing in Wexford Park, the camogie wouldn't have a look-in. It's the main county pitch so it's always somewhere you want to play in.

"But it's tougher on us having to look for pitches. We don't really have a normal venue for Wexford, I suppose it's wherever we can get a pitch on a given day."

Leacy feels there is an acceptance of second-class status with regards to female athletes and pitches.

"It's kind of being accepted that we're not going to be in the main county pitch," she said.

"Even at club level, county finals. . .It's a good few years now since a county final was in Wexford Park. We don't even get county finals in the main pitch.

"I'm sure that's not just in Wexford where that happens and hopefully that'll be the only home game that we have to look outside the county for."

With adverse weather conditions, pitches have been even harder to secure than normal but Leacy believes it's always much "tougher for women" to get access to pitches, saying they're almost "begging" for places to play at times.

Males would "definitely not" encounter the same problems" and the UCD Masters student also notices a massive difference between the treatment of players at inter-county and club/college level.

"With UCD it's all kind of the one. Dave Billings, God rest him, he was brilliant because he had the whole club together, we were working as one. There was no inequalities with the pitches or anything like that," the Oulart- The Ballagh player said.

"We use everything that the lads are using. You have the pitches and the astroturf, then you have the main pitch. Also we're lucky with the club back home that the GAA and the camogie are all the one.

"The camogie are on their own but they fundraise together and get use of the same facilities and there's never a problem there. Whoever was playing the next game would always have priority.

"There's never a problem with the club, but county is different."

Irish Independent

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