Justice for the Girls! Let us play our All Ireland Final.

Justice for the Girls! Let us play our All Ireland Final.

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Rachel Mc Partlin started this petition to Ladies Gaelic Football association

Petition on behalf of St Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton, Leitrim and St. Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan, Meath.  

Both teams will tell you that we felt like we had won the lotto when we won our respective All-Ireland Semi-finals. These were days of joy, excitement and celebration, as both of us had secured our place in the All- Ireland Senior ‘C’ Final; a final which was scheduled for the 29th of March. However, our celebrations were short lived when the LGFA informed us that they had made the decision to cancel all Lidl PPS 2020 finals.

Under the unprecedented circumstances that occurred due to COVID-19, we acknowledged the necessity to cancel all matches back then as Ireland went into lockdown. However, Ireland is now on a more positive trajectory and the LGFA have published their Roadmap. The LGFA Roadmap makes provisions for other All-Ireland Finals to be played later this year, therefore both schools have written to the LGFA a number of times to ask them to reschedule our final. On the grounds that other LGFA teams will get to play in their respective All Ireland finals, we feel strongly that our All-Ireland Final should be played too ! We have asked the LGFA for a meeting to discuss the matter but unfortunately, they are not willing to meet with us.

Each team and wider school community were distraught when the original fixture was cancelled. We all fought hard throughout the whole academic year, training multiple times week, on weekends and during school holidays. We also gave 150% to win each and every match in this knock-out competition. We have all earned our place in the final and whether we win, lose or draw we all feel it is only fair and just that we have the chance to represent ourselves, our school and our province at the highest level. To reach an All-Ireland Final is a dream for many but after winning our All-Ireland Semi-finals it became a reality for us. Unfortunately, that reality was short lived as our dreams were shattered when we heard it was cancelled. This match is especially important considering the fact that each team have a significant number of Leaving Certificate students on their panels and this is their last chance to play at this level and as part of the school community.

To each and every player on each squad, Gaelic football is more than just a sport, it is a way of life, it’s part of who we are. Many of us are part of the LGFA community for the last 17 years – as soon as we could walk, many of us were kicking a ball. We thought that the LGFA would understand how important this All-Ireland Final is to us, after all the LGFA is built on the loyalty of its grassroots members and we expected them to show us the same respect and loyalty. We feel dismayed and disregarded by an organisation we have spent our lifetime representing.

We are sure that you are aware that the GAA have scheduled some finals at the same age and grade (Boys Leinster Finals). Whilst we acknowledge that the GAA and LGFA are separate organisation, we are asking the LGFA to treat us with the same respect that our male counterparts are receiving. In an era where equality in sport and women’s rights have taken centre stage, we feel that the decision by the LGFA not to go ahead with our All-Ireland final is regressive and unfair.

Players from St. Joseph’s and St Clare’s have appealed numerous times to the LGFA, however all appeals to the LGFA have fallen on deaf ears. Unfortunately, we have now been forced to take our endeavours to the wider LFGA community and the media in the hope that the LGFA will engage with all stakeholders and work to find a positive resolution to this issue. Both teams involved are willing to play their final any time, any place, any day and behind closed doors if needs be. In keeping with the 20x20 campaign, if she can’t see it, she can’t be it. Moate Community School, Westmeath and Loretto Convent, Clonmel had secured their places in the Senior ‘A’ All-Ireland Final, like us they are now calling on the LFGA to reschedule their fixture. We acknowledge all the work these two teams have done in recent weeks and we fully support them in their endeavours.

We are appealing to our LGFA family across the island of Ireland and our wider community connections to help us with our fight. Regardless of county colours we must all stand together for justice and equality. Please share our story so that the LGFA can see all our members are standing strong together.

*Quote in petition picture by Pierre de Coubertin

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