THE women of the London Ladies GAA team have called out the management board which has denied them entry to this year’s recently reinstated All-Ireland Championships.
An announcement made last month by the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) revealed their plans to host the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Junior, Intermediate and Senior Ladies Football Championships.
It confirmed that the Championships would go ahead in October but that there would be no British team taking part, due to concerns over travel and quarantine restrictions due to Covid-19.
This week the London Ladies team, the reigning British champions who have reached the All-Ireland junior semi-finals for the last four years, claimed the snub by the LGFA leaves them “standing in the shadows of their counterparts”.
“Like everyone involved in the LGFA, GAA and wider communities we have been left desolate with the effect of the global pandemic,” they told The Irish Post.
“Nonetheless, the sport we have grown up with has taught us to be resilient and persevere, to live in hope and to continue striving for our goals - as such we have remained hopeful, training hard since the beginning of the year with our respective clubs and county in readiness for the eagerly anticipated Championship season,” they explain.
“Understandably, to take a risk-based approach is paramount when planning the fixtures, but given there is a significant amount of time before the Championship starts and how much things can change in four months (as we have seen) - was the decision to remove us from the Championship not taken too soon?”
The team claim there is still plenty of time for travel restrictions to be relaxed ahead of the impending competition.
They also believe the removal of their place in this year’s championship goes against everything the LGFA has been trying to promote as a member of the #20x20 movement championing Irish women and girls in sport in 2020.
“In the year of #20x20 and #SeriousSupport, where we have been pushing women in sport to the fore, is this not a step backward on the Associations behalf?” the London Ladies ask.
“[They are] leaving us to stand in the shadows of our counterparts who, as of yet, will still travel for October fixtures,” they add.
“With the Championship not due to commence for another four months was it not an abrupt decision to deny London Ladies participation so far in advance?”
The team are now calling on the LGFA to review their decision, citing recent approaches to the Men’s competitions as a better example of how to deal with the situation they find themselves within.
“London Men's Football and Hurling, as well as Warwickshire Hurling, have all been given the benefit of time before being eliminated from their respective competitions,” the London Ladies highlight.
“Is this not a perfect opportunity for the Association to show solidarity with all of its comrades and ensure equal treatment between men and women in sport?
“Is it not a perfect opportunity to lessen the disparity and embrace 20x20 in 2020 for all it stands for?”
They add: “We urge you to please, please reconsider the decision and allow for a set of Championship fixtures in which London Ladies participation is permitted while also keeping the current devised fixtures as a backup in the instance travel is not possible.
“Using this approach, alongside a cut-off point closer to Championship to re-evaluate circumstances would be of huge benefit to not only the competitiveness of the championship but also the mental and physical welfare of the players who have given years of their life to the Association.
“And in the event that Government advice is unfavourable and travel is not permitted without issue, at least we can say we have stood together and provided a level playing field for our sport.”