GAA Football

Armagh Ladies' football chairperson slams decision over Orchard county double-header

Caroline O'Hanlon of Armagh
Andy Watters

ARMAGH Ladies' Gaelic Football Association chairperson Sinead Reel says the decision not to allow the Orchard Ladies to be the first part of a double-header at the Athletic Grounds tomorrow is a setback for the game in the county.

The Armagh men side face Sligo at 2pm and the ladies' were originally scheduled to face Tipperary in a curtainraiser at 12pm. However, that arrangement was cancelled and, after rejecting an alternative 4pm slot, the ladies' switched their Division Two fixture to Silverbridge.

“The decision does not help us to promote our game,” said Reel.

“If we had the platform of a double-header there would be great exposure of our game to a very high attendance.

“We had a double-header against Dublin in the League in 2016 and it was a fantastic occasion for the girls and the county.

“Ladies' football is very exciting; played at a frantic pace and is end-to-end – it's really enjoyable to watch and the patrons on Sunday will miss out on that.

“The fact that the men's board (Armagh County Board) issued a promotional poster that the game was on at 12 noon and then had to retract it made things even worse. We had come to terms that we weren't getting the 12 noon slot and the 4pm slot we were offered was just not practical for anyone, especially the Tipperary Ladies.”

The Athletic Grounds was deemed unplayable for Armagh's Dr McKenna Cup clash with Derry on January 7 because of a frozen pitch, then snow and rain meant it could not be used for last weekend's semi-final against Donegal.

“The condition of the pitch was not used as an excuse for not providing us with the 12 noon slot,” Reel argued.

“Whatever the reason was, it wasn't over concerns about the pitch – that was never in the conversation, hence the 4pm slot being offered.”

The former Orchard county star highlighted the growth of ladies' football in Armagh over recent seasons and argued that the county ground should be made equally accessible to “all Gaelic codes”.

“In Armagh we are making great strides to push our county forward at all age levels, she said.

“We have county teams training since October at U13, U14, U15, U16, minor and senior – all entering competitions.”

Reel added: “The ladies' game is not seen as a priority by the men's board. Why should it be? They have their own stuff to sort out.

“But the Athletic Grounds is a facility that was modernised for all Gaelic codes. We are entitled to get usage of the facility, but sometimes it's very difficult to get what you want no matter how logical it looks to us.”

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