Aishling Moloney: 'How are women's sports going to be recognised, supported and promoted?'

Tipperary's Aishling Moloney speaks to IMAGE about the controversy surrounding a dual fixture clash for Cahir GAA this weekend


Having lived with Tipperary's Aishling Moloney for a year, I like to think I know her.

Co-habiting in such close quarters showed me she's a star both on and off the pitch.

Solid and sound, Moloney voices her opinions defiantly yet unobtrusively. Rarely would she shout, so when I saw her tweet about Tipperary GAA's current circumstances, I knew it was serious.

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Within hours the tweet had taken off. Currently, it has over 2,000 likes and hundreds of retweets. It's subject matter focused on Cahir GAA club in Tipperary. Its Junior A Camogie team was scheduled to play a county final against Knockavilla on Saturday. While the club's senior football team was set to face Aherlow in the Senior A county final on Sunday.

14 players (with 10 on the starting panels) were expected to play both finals in the space of 26 hours. Moloney, a two-time All-Ireland champion, was one of those individuals.

Consequences

"We played the junior semi-final and the senior semi-final on September 12 and 13," she says. "We played both of them flat-out and said we would say nothing and suffer the consequences because we wanted to be in the finals. But that Sunday we barely got over the line, we were nine points down with about five minutes to go and came back to win it."

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Moloney says Cahir notified the county board of the possible clash, but both the camogie and hurling finals were slated for the same weekend.

"It's impossible to give 100% to both finals two days in a row. We had done it that weekend, but we were exhausted for the whole week, so we said we had to say something. I was furious when I heard, it was something that could easily be fixed," she explains.

Moloney explains the coming weekend is the traditional timing for Tipperary ladies football finals, and that last weekend, the intermediate and senior camogie finals were played. Cahir is perplexed as to why the board didn't put the junior equivalent on the bill also.

"We followed procedures, the club backed us," Moloney says. "We sent in a players' letter to the camogie county board explaining the player welfare concerns and they came back and said they saw no clash and the games were going ahead.

Officials in Cahir club decided that the club would be unable to field a team for this weekend's camogie final due to these welfare concerns. Although it was not the outcome anyone wanted, Cahir was left with no other choice.

Equality

This isn't an isolated incident, and Moloney believes it is part of a broader issue. "With everything that is going on in terms of campaigns for women's equality, if people on the top board aren't going to accommodate, how are women's sports going to be recognised, supported and promoted."

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"We are trying to figure out why this is happening, but we can't get to the heart of it. Cahir is a part of the camogie community; we didn't come out of the blue. If players' welfare is on the line, the county board must protect the players."

Though gender may play a part, messages she received in response to the tweet showed her it's a countrywide issue in both male and female GAA.

"I got a few messages from men who said similar had happened their clubs," she says. "It's happening across the board. It's a welfare issue, and it is not confined to female GAA alone."

Amateur game

GAA is an amateur game. Those who play at the top level do it for the love of the game. However, the lines between enjoyment and commitment become easily blurred. "Every person in this organisation is an amateur from players to officials", Moloney explains. "I think before this pandemic we were all living a completely different life. We were on a rollercoaster. But I think this situation has shed some light on what was going on. It's such a privilege and honour for county players to represent your home, but some are asking themselves, 'is it worth it now for what we are getting out of it?'

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"It's supposed to be a hobby, something we enjoy and something we turn to when we are stressed but sometimes you end up being more stressed from it and under severe pressure. What is happening this week is a prime example of when that happens. It's unnecessary stress coming from something that we love."

At the time of writing, the Tipperary Camogie County Board has not responded to Cahir's decision to pull out of the county final, and Moloney says the team now has to "sit and wait to see if something is done."

However, Moloney and the team believe speaking out has been beneficial. "People across the country have acknowledged us and supported us, and I think we have raised awareness on an important issue that badly needs to be addressed."


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