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We're making strides in promoting women's sport

By Declan Bogue

The controversial fall-out from a Poc Fada competition last year, with the male winner being awarded a holiday prize while the female winner was not, produced a "serious negative reaction", admits Danny Murphy.

While Paddy McKillon was sent off to enjoy a break skiing, the ladies winner Catherine McGourty of Ballygalget and Down got no such reward after the event held at Hen Mountain, near Hilltown in Down.

The PE teacher said afterwards: "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."

She continued: "I think it is important that it was brought to light that there was an injustice done."

However Murphy said: "I think it was one of those unfortunate things, where misinformation became fact."

He explained the Ulster Council's role within the competition, and how a radio station had put up the prize for the male winner.

He also pointed at the track record of the Ulster Council in introducing and helping to spread the 'One Club' model, where various strands of the Association such as ladies football and camogie could be brought under one umbrella, at club level.

"I believe it was unfortunate in that the circumstances that prevailed around the prizes had nothing whatsoever to do with the Ulster Council," Murphy said.

"Secondly, we were going to great lengths to ensure that the ladies had the same prominence for their competition as there was for the hurling.

"In general terms, I think it got a serious negative reaction.

"The bottom line is, sometimes, with the best will and the best intentions, sometimes things can go awry and in this case they went seriously awry."

Ms McGourty was later awarded a holiday voucher from a newspaper, and at the time, officers of the Ulster Council refuted claims that they were guilty of sexist behaviour, arising from the staging of the event.

"It doesn't take away from the fact that we were working for the greater good of the 'One Family' model," continued Murphy.

"We still believe very strongly in it, and as far as we are concerned, we have been following a course of action now for the last five years, that was passed in early 2011.

"It's not a case of picking up something and taking a short-term view on it.

"That's why I say it was unfortunate. What we were saying was important - the need for women and men to be together.

"If you go into our clubs you will find that the One Club model is working very well.

"At the end of the day, this was a negative impact, but the facts didn't justify the outcome."

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