To grace the playing field in an All-Ireland final at any level is an honour fortunate to be bestowed upon a select few participants.
Such a privilege was due to be afforded to Moate Community School senior ladies squad as they prepared to contest their inaugural All-Ireland ‘A’ final in March, Loreto Convent SS, Clonmel, providing the opposition for the showpiece fixture.
With the detrimental impact of COVID-19 restrictions, the game was postponed as the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA ) confirmed the suspension of all post primary schools playing activity due to the prominence of the pandemic.
As frustration and disappointment permeated the senior ladies squad and a reversal of the LGFA decision not forthcoming with the easing of restrictions, Shannon Mulvihill, a prominent player on the Moate CS team, decided to express her relevant thoughts courtesy of a detailed letter to Minister for Sport, Deputy Catherine Martin, on Wednesday of last week.
The Garrycastle club player made the ultimate decision to pen the letter to the recently appointed Minister, as it was confirmed that the Boy’s Leinster Senior ‘A’ schools football final was to take place on Friday of last week, a decision which irked the Moate Community School management and playing squad.
“To play in an All-Ireland final is a unique occasion and maybe the pinnacle for many of my playing colleagues within our squad. I feel particularly disappointed for the sixth year players on our team who, it appear, will now not have the opportunity to feature in a game which may be the highlight of their sporting lives,” Shannon remarked.
Shannon noted that the decision to proceed with the Boy’s provincial decider noted the double standards which existed between both genders.
“The fact that the Boy’s Leinster Senior ‘A’ football final game can proceed, yet our All-Ireland cannot be played is disgraceful and seems completely and utterly sexist (characterised by showing prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination typically against women on the basis of sex ) and discriminatory (making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or thing especially on the grounds of race or sex ) towards both Moate CS and Loretto Convent SS Clonmel playing squads.
“There appears to be a double standard between both genders since the boys can have their Leinster final played yet we cannot have our All-Ireland final played. This decision made by the LGFA is deeply upsetting not only for our two teams but women in sport in general as it shows that men once again are given priority over us, even when if right was right, the All-Ireland would have precedence over the Leinster final. This decisions does not give much hope to us or the generations of girls in sport yet to come as it appears that these notions apparently will never change,” Shannon asserted.
Ultimately hoping that the LGFA will reverse their decision and permit the playing of the All-Ireland final, Shannon noted that the high profile fixture would provide an inspirational playing platform for the future generation of female footballers.
“This All-Ireland final will be one of the most memorable sporting moments in our lives and will not only inspire the next generation of athletes but the next generation of female athletes which the LGFA state that they are striving to promote. We are now in the 21st century and I think it is time that we are treated equal to our male counterparts. It is heartbreaking as a player to see the boys getting to complete their Leinster campaign yet we do not get a conclusion to our All Ireland series.
Prior to the imposition of pandemic restrictions, Moate CS defeated Loretto Cavan in the All-Ireland semi-final on March 11.
“The following day we received news that the GAA, An Cumann Camógaíochta and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association were suspending all activity at club county and education levels and we had no idea where we stood with regard to the playing of our All-Ireland final at the time.
“On March 24, the LGFA released an update on all club, inter-county and education levels which stated that all PPS competitions were cancelled for the remainder of the calendar year. We were all heartbroken when this news emanated as all of our hard work through out the year seemed to be in vain. As a school, have also tried to get the decision made by the LGFA changed but unfortunately it has not worked to date,” Shannon emphasised.
Aspiring for a reply to her letter from the Minister in due course, Shannon stressed that she and her teammates would be more than content to play the All-Ireland final in adherence with the health and safety guidelines issued by the Government and NPHET.
“We would willingly play the All-Ireland final behind adhering to current public health and safety guidelines and if necessary, without supporters present too. We just wish for the game to proceed. We have resumed contact training with our respective clubs, while the first round of the Westmeath Ladies senior football championship takes place this weekend, so playing activity has very much resumed.
While I acknowledge that the LGFA and GAA are separate organisations, the same playing regulations should apply in all instances,” Shannon concluded.