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GAA sexism row: Female champion gets a medal... while her male counterpart gets a holiday

By Declan Bogue

Published 23/07/2015

Poc Fada winner Catherine McGourty during the event at Hilltown in Co Down
Poc Fada winner Catherine McGourty during the event at Hilltown in Co Down
Poc Fada winner Catherine McGourty in action for Down against Waterford

Down camogie player Catherine McGourty has reiterated her disappointment over the "injustice" she felt when she won the recent Ulster Poc Fada, yet was not rewarded in the same way as her male counterpart.

The men's event was won by Paddy McKillion, who got a trophy and ski holiday for his efforts, while McGourty just got a medal.

However, it appears she will now enjoy a trip away thanks to Ulster GAA publication Gaelic Life stepping in and securing her a £500 holiday voucher she can use to go wherever she wishes.

"Realistically, it's not about the holiday," Ms McGourty told The Belfast Telegraph.

"It never really was. It's just the fact that there was such a difference between myself and the male competitor.

"Gaelic Games for me is an amateur association and I take part for the love of the sport, but it was just unequal."

The Poc Fada competition was held at Hen Mountain near Hilltown in Co Down.

The winner is the person who hits the ball 5km across the mountain in the least number of swings.

Gaelic Life ran an online poll posing the question: "Is gender inequality still an issue in Gaelic Games?" and more than 500 people replied, with a resounding 93% saying it was.

Ms McGourty is captain of her Ballygalget club and comes from a renowned GAA family.

"I think with the establishment of the Women's Gaelic Players' Association at the start of this year, they are there to make sure things are done right for women in sport, in particular ladies' football and camogie.

"I think it is important that it was brought to light that there was an injustice done," the PE teacher said.

Gaelic Life's Ciaran Woods said of its online poll: "There was a huge groundswell of support there in behind the female cause and Catherine's cause in particular.

"I think that in their very short existence, the likes of the Women's Gaelic Players' Association have done great work in promoting what female athletes are doing and trying to address that imbalance between male and female athletes."

He added, "But I still feel they have a long way to go, and although there is more joined-up thinking on it, there are still plenty where the camogs still do fall short compared to their male counterparts."

GAA Ulster Council spokesman John Connolly said: "We are not sexist. Definitely not. It was not in our brief to give away holidays or anything like that. We gave out medals, that's something we have always done, and we don't want to be branded like this.

"Integration between the different bodies - the GAA, ladies football and camogie - is an ongoing process, specially in Ulster, and we are all for it. It's not under the one umbrella as yet. But we would refute anyone suggesting we are sexist in any way."

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