A CAMOGIE player from Down has labelled Ulster GAA “totally sexist” after she was only awarded a medal for winning the provincial Poc Fada compared to a skiing holiday for her male equivalent.
Catherine McGourty and other female competitors played the same route as their male counterparts across Hen Mountain in Down – using an identical ball – but was appalled by the contrasting awards at the end of the event.
In an interview with The Irish News, the Ulster captain said: “We went round the course the exact same route as the men, we were actually following them around the route.
“In camogie, we play a size four ball, but when we got there, we found they only had size five. So we all, male and female, played the exact same.
“When we got back into the Clonduff club rooms, it was then in the speech before the prizes were given out that I first heard about the skiing holiday and that it would only be going to the male winner.
“We were told it was to do with the sponsor. But they didn't say anything else, no explanation was given at all.
“It's the principle of it, the Ulster GAA should not be doing this, we did the exact same route as the men so I'm disappointed in the way we have been treated.”
Paddy McKillion won the men’s event, but Ms McGourty insists the Tyrone man is not to blame.
She added: "We aren't trying to take away from the winner. He didn't ask for the prize and I didn't even know there was a skiing holiday to win beforehand, so that's not why I entered.
"But it came as a shock that they can do this, it's totally sexist."
In response to the criticism of Monday’s event, Ulster GAA have released a statement, denying involvement in the decision to award a skiing prize to the male winner and appearing to deflect the blame towards the sponsors and the Central GAA.
It read: "The O'Neill's Ulster GAA Poc Fada is organised by Ulster GAA on an annual basis with endorsement and support from Ulster Camogie. Both male and female competitors take part in separate competitions and Ulster GAA does not put up a prize other than medals for the any of the winners.
"The Central GAA in conjunction with two sponsors organised a prize for the Senior Men's Poc Fada winner and this falls outside the remit of the Camogie Association and the Ulster bodies."
Despite the unsatisfactory manner of her triumph, Ms McGourty still plans to compete in the All-Ireland event on behalf of Ulster on August 1, which is to be held in the Cooley Mountains in Louth.
She said: "I think I'll compete, but if we had of known that this would happen, maybe some of us wouldn't have competed."
The All-Ireland Poc Fada has been sponsored by power tools firm M Donnelly & Co. Ltd of Dublin for the past 16 years, according to the event’s official website.