We can all learn plenty from the ladies’ game

THE Ladies Football finals took centre stage at Croke Park on Sunday and what a wonderful spectacle it was.

Particularly noteworthy is the number of counties who can have realistic aspirations of All-Ireland success.

Indeed, the standard in the intermediate final seemed as good as the senior decider. Waterford and Donegal produced a cracker of a game with superb fielding, running, passing and scoring. Over-anxiety led to some errors but the experience of playing in such a thrilling game means big stage nerves won’t affect these girls in the future.

Yvonne McMonagle was the difference between the teams. The Donegal star got player of the match and was outstanding from first whistle to last. I’m certain we will see and hear more of her and these two teams in the years ahead.

In the senior showdown, Dublin and Tyrone went in search of the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time. In a one-sided game, Dublin triumphed with a power-packed display. Any win in Gaelic games for Dublin is always good for the promotion of the game but this one was really sweet for the city girls. They have been close to the top of the ladder in recent years and inspired by Sinead Ahern, who gave a Bernard Brogan-like display, they emerged emphatic winners before a crowd of almost 22,000. Will this victory lead to greater support for the Dublin ladies in the future? It should and they certainly deserve it. Things did not go Tyrone’s way but they, too, will have many better days. And fair play to Limerick who brought delight to Shannonside with victory over a gallant Louth in the junior final.

While the ladies took centre stage on the sacred sod of Croke Park, it was the men who played the leading roles off it. The managers, referees and commentators were nearly all men, with women playing supporting roles.

What’s more the cups were presented by the president of the Ladies Football Association, Pat Quill.

There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but, one has to wonder why women don’t occupy more of these leading roles. In particular, I always felt that the president of the Ladies Football Association should be a woman. After all, you don’t expect to see a man as president of the ICA or chairing the women’s committee in the European Parliament. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d reserve the highest administrative honour in the sport for a woman.

However, be that as it may, the progress made by ladies football is admirable and Sunday proved what a fantastic game it is and how standards have continued to improve year on year.

What’s more, we saw again the inherent fairness and effectiveness of the countdown clock. It certainly adds an exciting dimension to the game, especially in the closing minutes. If we had the countdown clock in Gaelic football this year would Louth be Leinster champions now and would the Cork minor footballers have snatched at least a draw in the minor final?

Food for thought.

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