'We can't expect girls to keep going if they don't have fun'
One of the clubs that has benefited from an upturn in Gaelic Games participation for women and girls is Dunderry GAA writes MICHAEL KEAVENY
Between 2001 and 2019 the LGFA saw its membership grow from 80,000 to 192,000, its clubs grow from 650 to 14,000 and the All-Ireland final attendance grow from 21,000 to 56,000 which was just 1,800 short of that year's Women’s World Cup Final.
One of the clubs that has benefited from this upturn in participation is Dunderry GAA.
Over the last decade the club’s stock has risen as their camogie team rose straight from junior to senior in consecutive years while they also launched a new women’s football team in 2020.
Two of those central to the progress in Dunderry camogie and women’s football are Ruth Lynch and Rachel Flynn (inset).
“I played for Senchelstown Ladies and won a few county titles but I moved to the area a few years ago and didn’t know anyone,” says Ruth who serves as a treasurer and an underage coach for the football team.
“My daughter started playing football and loved it so I got involved. It was a great way of getting to know people in the area, the club were so welcoming.“
There are a few girls on the adult team who just moved to the area and they’ve all found it is a great way of getting to know people. ”
While Covid-19 has caused massive disruption, it has proved beneficial in ways to the football as Ruth explains.
“The adult ladies started in 2020 after a gap of a few years, which wasn’t a great year to start, but the juvenile started a few years previously. This year we’ve had a massive boost in numbers, previously we struggled for numbers but this year we have 33 under-10 girls alone. A few joined and they really enjoyed it and they said it to their friends so the word just spread. It can be hard to keep girls motivated but Covid probably helped in this regard because we had a few who had to isolate and when they were at home and they realised how much they missed it and couldn’t wait to get back.”
Rachel who joined Dunderry from Simonstown in 2015 and plays camogie and football while also serving as camogie PRO believes that quality, female coaching and role models are essential to inspire the next generation of players.
Ruth believes that the number one principle underpinning the continued success of both codes is that everyone has been fun, while receiving positive feedback from coaches.
“I’ve made some great friends playing camogie and football”, she said. Even if girls don't stick at it at least they make a connection with their community that lasts for their whole life.”