In 2015, in Wembley Stadium, London, 30,710 fans turned up to see Chelsea playing Notts County in the women’s FA Cup final. It was the second most highly attended women’s sporting event in Europe that year.
Which event came in at number one?
Well, that would be the All-Ireland women’s Gaelic football final at Croke Park, where Cork defeated the Dubs in front of a crowd of 31,083.
Today, in that same venue, Croke Park, sportswomen will gather to discuss changing attitudes towards, and participation in, women’s sports. And among those attending will be Mags D’arcy, two times camogie all-star from Wexford, and Natalya Coyle, who competed for Ireland in the last two Olympic Games in the modern pentathlon. They both joined Sean O’Rourke today to discuss the progress being made in encouraging women into sport, and also to identify the huge amount of work still to be done.
Amongst the problems, according to Mags D’arcy, is the continued separation of the two sets of players, even within the same code.
“My quick fix solution would be to amalgamate both matches on the same day. Where you have a camogie match before a men’s hurling match, where you have a ladies football match before a men’s football match.”
Similarly, what would stop the Irish women’s rugby team playing on the same bill as the men, as part of the Six Nations Championships, for example? This, according to Mags, would expose the women’s game to a much greater audience.
This discussion is taking place in the context of huge participation of Irish women in sport. As Sean pointed out, on Sunday, over 6,000 people attended the camogie club finals, on Saturday night, Katie Taylor won her professional bout in the UK, and the Irish women’s rugby team is enjoying better TV coverage and results on the field than ever before. And yet, women in sport argue that there is an awful lot still to be done.
It’s not just about women supporting women any more. As Mags said, “I think that’s going to be a long struggle, if we continue down that avenue.”
But listening to Natalya, it’s clear that positivity and continue determination will also play a part.
“There is a lot more to come, but I think we need to think positively about it. We can’t keep complaining all the time. We just need to keep going, showing our skill set is just as good as men, kicking ass, and winning medals.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.
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