‘Difference’ in workload placed on dual women Gaelic players compared to men, committee hears

Aisling Groarke trains six days a week with Dublin club and recalls times when ‘basic things’ in facilities for women players were missing

A dual camogie and Gaelic football player has told an Oireachtas committee that she trains six days a week between both codes with her club in south county Dublin.

Aisling Groarke, a member of Cuala, based in Dalkey, said there was a “difference” in terms of the workload placed on dual women players compared to their male counterparts.

“I’m a dual player and my brother is also a dual player ... I would train now six days a week and I have matches Tuesday and Wednesday,” she told the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media on Wednesday.

“So I’m expected to play two full games whereas my brother would be training four days a week and then he would have one match ... so I definitely think in terms of workload there is a bigger amount on females.”


Ms Groarke said while she was “lucky” in terms of the facilities available at her club, she had heard from friends and other club players of more expensive membership costs for women and preferential treatment towards men for pitches available.

She also said while great strides had been made, she remembered when “basic things” such as clean toilet facilities or sanitary products and bins were not available for women players.

“It’s things like that I definitely think make a huge difference to players, there’s just a level of respect and makes such a difference when those are available to you,” Ms Groarke added.

Speaking earlier, GAA president Jarlath Burns said club facilities had been built for “men and men’s needs” and it was “something we can’t be blind to”.

“If we are going to have facilities for all, they must genuinely be for all and it must be a situation where girls, if they need to do the basic thing like go to the toilet before going out to play a match, there is a toilet there for them,” he said.

Fine Gael senator Michael Carrigy said he didn’t think it was “acceptable” for a club player to be training six days a week and the issue of players training too much needed to be looked at nationally.

Tom Parsons, former Mayo footballer and chief executive of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), said the load on inter-county players was “higher than ever”.

Mr Parsons said managers were putting pressure on players to “win at all cost” because of the consequences for them.

“If you come in to be manager of the Mayo football team, there’s an expectation that ‘you better bring us to the promised land or damn close to it’,” he said.

“So those expectations and public pressure that we’re all responsible for, because we want our county to do well, those consequences are pushed down to players.”

Mr Parsons added that the sustainability of the amateur game had to be looked at, along with player expenses, as a report conducted found that 32 per cent of inter-county players were in serious financial difficulty.

The former player also noted the rise in inflation, and said over the space of 10 years the hotel room rate the Mayo team stayed in when playing in Croke Park had risen from €150 per night to €320 and the plate of flood from €9 to €16 per player.

The Oireachtas Committee is currently examining the integration of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Camogie Association with the GAA. The goal is that by 2027, there will be one association for Gaelic games.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times