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Ex-Armagh boss James Daly highlights double standards

By Declan Bogue

After leaving his job as manager of Armagh ladies' footballers, James Daly can now speak his mind over what he has always felt are double standards regarding the sexes in the GAA.

Daly put in three years in charge of the minor side before four seasons with the seniors.

The Dromintee man stepped down at the end of last season and the role has since been filled by 2002 All-Ireland winner Ronan Clarke. Before he agreed to take the post, Clarke insisted on certain improvements in conditions.

Daly said of his time at the helm of the Orchard ladies: "In general, the girls get a hard go of it. The girls can travel from all over to training and there would never be expenses for them. There would rarely be food.

"Now, I know Ronan Clarke has come into Armagh this year and he has professionalised it a good bit.

"But a name like Ronan's will always get things, like they are using his own home training ground, Pearse Ógs, where Pearse Ógs would never have given me the field. That's their home base now."

His own account of managing the side reads more like managing a situation. He recalled: "You were going from pillar to post, looking to train, training in rubbish places and even getting the girls to come along and throw two or three pounds into the kitty for somewhere you are renting out.

"This is not down to the county board. The money isn't there in the ladies' game. The sponsorship is nowhere near where it is in the men's game."

He knows he was not alone, and discussions with other coaches revealed similar horror stories.

"It was all exactly the same. We were travelling down the country to play games in Roscommon and places like that," he said. "We were playing county games in poor, poor club grounds. But these are the only clubs that would give their field. We were lucky enough in Armagh over the last few years that Silverbridge gave us their ground, and it is an excellent facility. Our own (ladies') Chairman is a Silverbridge man, Owen Reel.

"But in general the girls are treated poorly. You go around the managers and it's exactly the same."

A couple of weeks ago, the Armagh senior men's manager Kieran McGeeney voiced his frustrations at not being able to secure regular premises for county training. But there is a distinction between that complaint and those of the ladies, insists Daly.

"The men will go to play a challenge match and on the way home they will have a three-course dinner and lunch and breakfast on the way out. They will get paid for their mileage and so on," he explained.

"But the girls do not get it. They do not expect it. They expect to put their hand in their pocket. Give it another month and the men will have no problem with pitches. The women will still have problems."

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