Sunday 17 December 2017

A proper strike: Irish women win friendly after off-pitch battle

Denise O’Sullivan celebrates with team-mate Diane Caldwell after the final whistle. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Denise O’Sullivan celebrates with team-mate Diane Caldwell after the final whistle. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Ryan Nugent

They arrived at the stadium in fresh tracksuits and left on the team bus in the same official outfits.

It was a start at least and an improvement for the Ireland women's team that they were able to hold onto their official sporting wear following their one-nil friendly victory over Slovakia in Tallaght.

The side, led by captain Emma Byrne, received a wave of support from the Irish public when demanding fairer playing conditions last week - including that their tracksuits had to be handed back for use by other teams.

And that same backing declined to waver in Tallaght Stadium yesterday afternoon, with more than 1,000 fans turning out in spite of the desperately awkward kick-off time. Would they dare put a men's game on with a 2pm kick-off time?

Even Shane Ross was present. The Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister may not have approved of the threat of strike action by the players, given the pressure he's under with the Bus Éireann dispute.

Luckily it didn't come to industrial action and the only strike was one by Stephanie Roche, who converted her penalty for a one-nil win.

Ireland supporters Katie Power, Pearl Ngengebula, Sinead Ring and Abbie O’Mahony, from Cork, at the match. Photo: Damien Eagers
Ireland supporters Katie Power, Pearl Ngengebula, Sinead Ring and Abbie O’Mahony, from Cork, at the match. Photo: Damien Eagers

WATCH: Stephanie Roche scores as Ireland start new era with a win

The team, according to star performer Katie McCabe were keen on putting last week's events behind them and focusing on the football.

"That was put to bed the minute everything was sorted out. For us it was always about getting back to the training ground and focusing on today," she said.

However, the fans still wanted to air their grievances on last week's revelations.

Sports Minister Shane Ross and Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath watched the game from the stands. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sports Minister Shane Ross and Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath watched the game from the stands. Photo: Damien Eagers

Aidan Brett, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, attended the game with his daughter, Roisin (5), who plays for her local team.

He was astounded at the events of last week in which the women went public with their grievances.

"For a women's senior team it's ridiculous that they aren't treated the exact same as the men's team," he said.

"In this day and age, even our club team for my daughter, they're supplied with club tracksuits for themselves," he added.

Perhaps the stance taken by role models, Roche, Byrne and co will make for an equal future for Roisin and the next generation of Irish women's football.

Stephanie Roche smiles with supporter Issy Kearney (7), from Wexford, after victory over
Slovakia. Photo: Damien Eagers
Stephanie Roche smiles with supporter Issy Kearney (7), from Wexford, after victory over Slovakia. Photo: Damien Eagers

Irish Independent

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