D'Arcy takes on Wexford coaching role to put further dent in glass ceiling
Four-time All-Ireland camogie winner Mags D'Arcy has become the latest woman to puncture sport's glass ceiling by taking on a coaching role with the Wexford senior hurlers.
She is not the first woman to work in a men's senior inter-county backroom team but Davy Fitzgerald has arguably given her the most high-profile role - as a coach.
The St Martin's star revealed her involvement during a conference in Croke Park yesterday which heard that support for women's sport in Ireland (as attendees and TV viewers) is two times (37pc) greater than it is in the UK (17pc).
More men (43pc) than women (30pc) support women's sport here and men over the ages of 55 make up most of them (57pc) the biggest compared to 30pc of women in the same age-bracket.
D'Arcy continues the latest trend of women breaking new ground in non-playing roles and in men's sport.
She is currently injured and hasn't ruled out a return to camogie but said: "It happened about five to six weeks ago and it's definitely a very different challenge to playing.
"I've known Davy a long time, he's been a mentor to me throughout the years," she revealed, explaining that she first encountered him over 12 years ago when she discovered he was one of the umpires during a Clare/Wexford camogie match in Ennis.
"Since he came to Wexford we've had coffees and chats and the conversation evolved. The respect that's there (from the players) is incredible," she said. "There's no egos in the dressing room, just lads who are really, really willing to work hard.
"It's something I never thought I'd find myself doing but, within the first week, I was taken out of the goalkeeping work and put into a group training session. I've been doing technical one-on-one work to help players develop their weak areas and also working on formations and some performance analysis."
The growing emergence and success of women in non-playing roles was one of the main themes of yesterday's conference sponsored by Liberty Insurance.
The speakers also included groundbreaking rugby referee Joy Neville and Six Nations-winning captain Fiona Coghlan who said it was time for more women to be given the chance to fill such roles.
"There's now enough women with the necessary knowledge and experience to take them on if opportunities are provided, like Mags with Wexford, Joy with refereeing and Joanne with RTé," she said of RTé presenter Joanne Cantwell who will be the new 'Sunday Game' presenter in 2019.
Anna Kessel, a founding member of Women in Football in the UK and a sportswriter with 'The Guardian', said that attitudes to women's sport in the UK shifted due to the London Olympics in 2012 when "people saw the glory of women competing.
"Hearing about the GAA, it seems to be much more a family culture and a community hub," she said.
"We have that in part in England and perhaps we used to have it in a bigger way but not so much now and we're clawing that back."