New ground has been made in Gaelic Games with the announcement of the Womens Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) today in Dublin.
The organisation will support Ladies Football and Camogie players who represent their counties at the highest levels.
Players from both codes and across the country were present for the announcement, with Ladies Footballers Valerie Mulcahy (Cork), Fiona McHale (Mayo) and Gemma Begley (Tyrone), along with Camogie player Kate Kelly from Wexford among those on the Executive committee.
Womens GPA Chairperson Aoife Lane has been thrilled with the support so far.
“It’s been fantastic and kind of overwhelming really to see such support here today,” she said.
“You could see that there was a bit of energy on social media and that yesterday, but it has really manifested itself in the actual attendance today.
“The players have been amazing . They are the most important people and to have them here in such numbers is fantastic.”
In 2015, the WGPA will provide a 24/7 Member Support Line, while they will also work in tandem with the GPA on the Jim Madden Leadership Programme.
For Chairperson Aoife Lane it’s also about getting the basics right at the start.
“It’s a dual focus really - you have on-the-field and off-the-field issues. Little things like not having hot showers and meals after training, and not having a physio on hand.
“Those things we probably need to tackle, and they have to become the norm rather than things players have become very frustrated by."
“Then the off-field stuff - that players have a balanced lifestyle; that they pursue their education, their career and their families and friendships.
“It’s very important that they are aware that there is a whole other aspect to their life as well and we would like to help them on that side.”
Unlike their male counterparts the association is not an official one, but will enjoy a 'healthy relationship’ with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) and Camogie Association.
Representatives of both associations, including outgoing LGFA President Pat Quill and Camogie Association Director General Joan O’Flynn were present at the announcement.
The WGPA will have access to some of the support services provided by the GPA.
GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell was also present at the event.
He is delighted that the organisation will be working in tandem with the Womens GPA.
“First and foremost it’s great to see that the women are getting organised in that way and it’s not easy to do,” he said.
“There have been a couple of protagonists that have driven it on and we are delighted to be able to support them and offer guidance and offer some financial support as well to get them up and running.
“Ultimately I think it is going to be very beneficial for the athletes themselves, but also for the games themselves. Women in Sport needs to become a priority in this country and I think we all can do more to grow participation numbers, to grow interest and to grow the profiles of the sports as well."