The 20 most influential women in the GAA

The recent appointments of Roisin Jordan and Tracey Kennedy to the chairman and vice-chairman of their respective counties appear to indicate the GAA’s growing acceptance of women in high office.

The 20 most influential women in the GAA

Given his support for women taking up more prominent positions in the organisation, it’s no surprise that such developments have taken place during president Liam O’Neill’s term of office. Here in alphabetical order we list 20 of the most influential women in Gaelic games.

Siobhan Brady

GAA communications manager

Cavan native Brady is a widely-respected member of the GAA team in Croke Park having worked as well with PRO Danny Lynch prior to Lisa Clancy taking the role. Assisting head of media communications Alan Milton, a lot of her work involves interacting with press, TV, radio and digital on top of organising logistical matters such as press events and match-day accreditation.

Lisa Clancy

GAA director of communications

Appointed in 2008, Clancy has been at the forefront of the GAA’s embracing of digital media as well as their continued engagement with traditional formats. Much like her predecessor Lynch, her work covers a variety of areas. Heavily involved in matters such as media rights and branding, the former HSE head of corporate communications has also been instrumental in encouraging counties and clubs to promote themselves online.

Joan Cooney

Executive assistant to GAA president

Cill Na Martra’s Cooney, who previously served as secretary to Liam Mulvihill, is renowned as the right hand woman of the Uachtarán, coordinating engagements as well as putting shape to programmes such as the GAA’s social initiative. A passionate Gaelgoir, she also acts as secretary on two national committees, the Coiste Naisúnta na Gaeilge and Coiste Naisúnta Scór.

Briege Corkery

Cork camogie player/footballer

The winner of 14 All-Ireland senior titles, the St Val’s/Cloughduv dual star is truly a phenomenon. Cork’s spectacular comeback against Dublin in this year’s ladies football final saw her complete the double for the fifth time. Named as the national female sportstar of the year in 2005, she has also enjoyed club success with both her outfits.

Margaret Doyle

Wexford County Board secretary

Doyle has held the position of secretary in a full-time capacity since 2008 and in that time has shown an impressive resilience. With chairman Diarmuid Devereux, she has been successful in turning around the county’s financial difficulties. After debts reached €3m in 2012, this year they reported a net surplus of €482,695.

Anita Finnegan

Monaghan County Board secretary

The Ballybay/Aughnamullen woman was appointed to the office of assistant secretary in 2011 before becoming secretary at the end of 2013, replacing Sean McKenna. Finnegan has held several roles in the county board such as youth board secretary, having been secretary of her club for six years. An excellent goalkeeper, she was also a selector to the county’s ladies football All-Ireland winners in 1996 and ‘97.

Anna Geary

Cork camogie player

In lifting the O’Duffy Cup as Cork captain this year, Geary became a four-time All-Ireland winner at inter-county level. With her club Milford, she has been almost as fruitful with two titles. As Cork’s representative at the Rose of Tralee this year, she added to her impressive profile but Geary has also shown herself to be a polished GAA analyst.

Ann Gibney

GAA overseas coordinator

With the GAA’s inaugural World Cup in Dubai only around the corner, Gibney will be busy but it will be nothing new as she has been immersed in the proliferation of international Gaelic games. Gibney has supervised a host of events such as the Aer Lingus hurling competition in 2012. She is secretary of the GAA’s international operations committee.

Aideen Gillen

Donegal County Board secretary

Female county secretaries in Donegal are nothing new with Noreen Doherty and Crona Regan having previously filled the positions. The Dungloe woman recently beat Ed Byrne 100 votes to 62 to succeed Aodh Mairtin Ó Fearraigh. It remains to be seen whether she encounters the same club v county difficulties as her predecessor.

Roisin Jordan

Tyrone County Board chairman

Eglish’s Jordan will always be regarded as the first female chairman of a county board in Ireland (Mayo’s Eileen Jennings served as chair of the European board between 2006 and ‘09). The former vice-chairman has served her time in several guises such as a member of the county’s competitions control committee. She leads what is appreciated as one of the country’s most progressive boards.

Tracey Kennedy

Cork County Board vice-chairman

Killeagh woman Kennedy takes over from Ger Lane, both having deservedly claimed national PRO of the year awards from the Gaelic Writers Association. Kennedy had to fight off a stiff battle to claim her latest role but the victory was indicative of the widespread respect there is for one of the most accomplished county officers around.

Aileen Lawlor

Camogie Association president

Former Dublin and Westmeath player Lawlor will finish up her term in 2015 but can look back on a fruitful three years where there was a lot of spadework done in the sport coming under the umbrella of the GAA. A former match official herself, she has succeeded with part of her manifesto to increase the number of female referees.

Mary O’Connor

Camogie Association development director

The promotion of the game is in good hands with the renowned former dual star. A large part of it moving ever closer towards becoming the No1 female participant sport in Ireland can be attributed to O’Connor’s work. She was interim director general of the association before her fellow Cork woman Joan O’Flynn took over in 2013.

Joan O’Flynn

Camogie Association director general

Midleton-born, Kildare-based O’Flynn, a former president of the organisation andinter-county player, has held office since September 2013. Since then, she has been charged with implementing the “Our Game, Your Game” campaign. In June 2014, she reported there had been a 25% growth in club memberships over the last 10 years.

Kathleen O’Neill

Kildare County Board secretary

O’Neill has held the full-time position since 2009 and the Rathcoffey woman hasn’t shied away from most topics. At the end of 2013, she suggested that all sponsorship money raised by county boards be pooled so as to avoid counties like Dublin becoming superpowers. Kildare’s “bailout” from Croke Park was a challenging time but as in Wexford there are signs of stability returning.

Helen O’Rourke

Ladies Gaelic Football Association chief executive

Appointed in 1997 after a presidential term, O’Rourke is the longest-serving national official across all the Gaelic games organisations. Just as camogie is growing, so too is ladies Gaelic football with the recognition of Cork as RTE’s team of the year a major boost for the spread of the game. The Dubliner aims to have 200,000 registered players by 2016.

Paula Prunty

Ladies Gaelic Football development manager

In the role since 2003, much of Prunty’s brief extends to putting in practice the expansion goals set out by O’Rourke. In doing so, Prunty has implemented a variety of initiatives such as the Gaelic 4 Mothers & Others and Gaelic4Girls programmes.

Sinead Quinn

GAA claims and risks manager

By this stage, every club and county board in the country has spoken to Quinn. Whether it is damage to club grounds or a cruciate operation, applications must be green lighted by Quinn. She is also a member of the GAA’s national safety work group and is secretary of the national insurance and management committee.

Teresa Rehill

GAA operations manager

Working in director general Páraic Duffy’s department, Rehill has and continues to fill several key roles in the GAA such as secretary of the management committee, the Central Competitions Control Committee and the rules advisory committee. Her duties also entail the day-to-day operations of the GAA.

Kathy Slattery

GAA national financial manager

Along with national finance director Tom Ryan, Galway woman Slattery has had her hands full in recent times with tasks ranging from organising “bailout” deals for the likes of the Galway and Kildare county boards to travelling the country to ensure county boards are tax-compliant with their referees. She is also secretary of the national financial management committee.

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