Mayo footballer Cora Staunton says the ladies game has made some massive strides but there are still some glaring inadequacies that need to be remedied.
Staunton, who lined for reigning champions Cornacon in the Connacht club final against Kilkerrin-Clonberne yesterday, has just finished her 23rd season with Mayo when they lost the All-Ireland final to Dublin last month.
That game was played in front of a world record crowd for a ladies sports event in 2017, with 46,286 in attendance at Croke Park. There has been a huge resurgence in the game since Staunton made her debut for the Mayo seniors when she was only 13, away to Laois in the national football league in 1995, but she says there is still so much more than can be done.
“I am a big fan of the GAA and I have watched Mayo men and their heartbreak, the hair standing on the back of your neck when you are here on All-Ireland final day,” said the 35-year old.
“Seeing over 80,000 in Croke Park, that would be the ultimate dream for ladies football and I will probably never experience that but to get close to 50,000 is massive.
“The ladies game has seen far more promotion over the years and Lidl have come in and done a massive job to promote the finals. But what I want to see is that there is a huge push for semi-finals, quarter-finals and other matches.
“For the league, if we could play before the Mayo men. The Mayo men play a league match in Castlebar against Dublin and there could be 15,000 at it. Why can’t we play Dublin before that and have 10,000 come in early?
“At times the association is a little bit to blame themselves because the Mayo men can be playing in MacHale Park and we are playing in Swinford. Where are the fans going to be drawn to? If the fixtures are in the same place it’s easier for media too.”
Staunton was speaking at the 2017 #GAAyouth Forum in partnership with Sky Sports at Croke Park on Saturday where over 500 young players between the ages of 12 and 21 attended an event to discuss player welfare issues.
Next month she heads to Australia to begin life as a professional with the Greater Western Sydney Giants and a whole new chapter in the life of one of the country’s most enduring sports stars.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved