“For us, geography is a hurdle,” explains Donegal manager Maxi Curran, after going over the distances his panel members travel when they all meet for a training session.
urran has players based in Limerick and Belfast, with others based in Sligo and Dublin. During the week they train in Tyrone, often at the Center of Excellence in Garvaghey, to try to spread the burden of travel more evenly. With no travel expenses for its players, they have to be creative to ease the financial burden. And it gives him a different perspective on the dispute between the GPA and the GAA.
“I have to say, honestly, we’re looking at this situation with a wry smile,” Curran said. “Because female footballer spending is something that needs to be addressed by all aspects of sporting society at the moment. While the boys get their 65 cents a mile, our girls are lucky enough to get 5 cents a mile. And these are the districts that are doing well. At current fuel prices, that’s a huge, huge problem.
“So we’re not going to be burdened by this challenge because they’re not getting anything by the looks of it. You get something at the end of the year, but that wouldn’t be five cents a kilometer.”
Curran is well placed to make comparisons. A part of Donegal’s squad under Jim McGuinness, he managed Donegal men’s teams at all levels from U-14 up and was even briefly in charge of the senior team in 2013 when his U-21s played the McKenna Cup. In addition to the travel costs, they can sometimes receive generous donations from sponsors, but these are always small.
And he explains that all of their finances are used to provide their players with the framework of a good setup, although that cannot extend to mileage.
“We try to equip the thing as well as possible – physios, strength and condition, pitch rental. To get good quality pitches you have to pay for them. So you are well taken care of except for the player mile costs.
“If you look at any (male) county team’s balance sheet at the end of the year, that’s probably a six-figure sum for expenses. I would say if you add up the top 10 teams in the LGFA they wouldn’t pay a six figure sum. Maybe all the counties combined wouldn’t account for their total travel expenses in the six-figure range.
“It’s just a fact of life…there is poverty in certain parts of the world, but not in ours. That’s how it is at the moment, we’re the poor relatives as far as that goes. But I think a lot of people are very aware of the massive improvements in a footballer’s life and the landscape as a whole.
“We are here at the start of the Lidl league final, the participation of bodies like Lidl and TG4 has definitely improved the situation. We’re on the rise, but I think it’s going to take a long time and I don’t know if it’ll ever reach a level of equality with the boys, to be fair.”
Merging the various associations could help, but Curran warns it won’t solve everything. And with men’s football generating most of the finances, there is still work to be done before the men’s and women’s games are truly even.
“I think it’s one of those things in life that you think should happen, but I think if you really delve into it, to my knowledge the bulk of the GAA’s funding in over a year is based on the Presence.
“The ladies game is not attracting big numbers at the moment. For it (the money) to get to the players, there would have to be a massive gesture in favor of men’s football to give it any parity. I think there is a lot of soul searching and a lot of meetings between specific bodies before that happens. I think it will be a gesture of men’s football towards their female counterparts.”
Donegal is at Croke Park this Sunday to take on All-Ireland champion Meath in the Division 1 final. They qualified for the final by beating Dublin last time out with two goals within 23 seconds.
“One of the most gratifying things about Dublin is that we managed to take out one of the big guns. And I think you go from the frying pan to the fire aimed at Meath.
“Then there’s the Croke Park factor, they’ve been here six times in the last few years but some of our girls are going to be their first time at Croke Park, let alone playing there, so you go to the.” Lion’s Den and play a team of Meath’s experience.
“They are at their peak at the moment and their football just flattens everyone. It’s a step for us in the overall plan for the season and to play in an environment like this against a team as good as Meath is brilliant for us and when we cross the finish line it will be a huge boost for us.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ladies-football/while-the-guys-get-65c-a-mile-our-girls-will-be-lucky-to-get-5c-maxi-curran-41524668.html “While the boys get 65 cents a mile, our girls are lucky enough to get 5 cents” – Maxi Curran