Home Sport GAA London ladies make formal request to join National League

London ladies make formal request to join National League

London ladies make formal request to join National League
The London ladies team following last year’s All Ireland JFC group stage win over Carlow at McGovern Park, Ruislip

The London Ladies Board has applied to the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) to enter next year’s National Football League.

The last time London competed in the league was in 2008, when they went on to win the Junior All Ireland under Johnny Wilson.

The formal request by London comes two weeks (16 June) after the LGFA excluded the winners of the British provincial championship from the All Ireland, due to concerns over travel restrictions and quarantine regulations caused by Covid-19.

However, Croke Park included Britain’s men’s football and hurling teams in its revised competition structures announced on Friday (26 June), subject to such travel and quarantine issues being resolved.

London ladies chairperson Lucia Butler wrote to Central Council last week, having advised Provincial Council on 22 June of London’s intent to join the league.

Central to London’s case for inclusion will be the team establishing itself as a “competitive force” on the pitch – they’ve reached four consecutive All Ireland junior semi-finals – as well as continuity in its management team.

Manager Paddy Bowles is in his third year at the helm and has been assisted throughout by Ryan Jones.

London ladies make formal request to join National League

Off the pitch, the London ladies board has assured the LGFA that it has the necessary sponsorship in place to allow the team to “fully compete” in the league in 2021.

“We have secured the backing from our sponsor, John Reddington JRL Group, for the league and the aim will be to get London playing in the league next year, Covid-19 permitting,” Butler recently told the Irish World.

In 2008, London’s participation into the league came with the proviso that all of its games were played in Ireland. It remains to be seen if the LGFA will impose a similar stipulation this time around.

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However, in order to compete on an “equal footing” London says it “would expect that home games will be fixed to be played in London”.

The letter also conveyed London’s “disappointment” at not being allowed the opportunity to compete in this year’s championship, while adding that they “understand and accept the decision”.

Marie Hickey, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, last week told the Irish World that the LGFA would be “delighted” to welcome London back into the league.

London ladies make formal request to join National League
The 2008 London ladies team was the last to compete in the National League

“The more teams we have the better it is for everybody. Travel and the finance required for that would be the issue, but we’d be open to all suggestions,” said Hickey.

An official appeal by the London Ladies Board on 29 June, which officially rejected by the LGFA on 30 June. The London Ladies players responded by issuing their own statement, below:

“A Chara / To whom it may concern,

“We are contacting you as a collective, regarding the LGFAs decision to remove us from participation in this year’s 2020 Championship.

“Like everyone involved in the LGFA, GAA and wider communities we have been left desolate with the effect of the global pandemic. Nonetheless, the sport we have grown up with has thought us to be resilient and persevere, to live in hope and to continue striving for our goals – as such we have remained hopeful, training hard since the beginning of the year with our respective clubs and county in readiness for the eagerly anticipated Championship season.

“Understandably, to take a risk-based approach is paramount when planning the fixtures, but given there is a significant amount of time before the Championship starts and how much things can change in 4 months (as we have seen) – was the decision to remove us from the Championship not taken too soon?

“In the year of #20×20 and #SeriousSupport, where we have been pushing women in sport to the fore, is this not a step backward on the Associations behalf? – leaving us to stand in the shadows of our counterparts who as of yet will still travel for October fixtures. With Championship not due to commence for another 4 months was it not an abrupt decision to deny London Ladies participation so far in advance?

“London Men’s Football and Hurling, as well as Warwickshire Hurling have all been given the benefit of time before being eliminated from their respective competitions.

“Is this not a perfect opportunity for the Association to show solidarity with all of its comrades and ensure equal treatment between men and women in sport? Is it not a perfect opportunity to lessen the disparity and embrace 20×20 in 2020 for all it stands for?

“We urge you to please, please reconsider the decision and allow for a set of Championship fixtures in which London Ladies participation is permitted while also keeping the current devised fixtures as a backup in the instance travel is not possible.

“Using this approach, alongside a cut-off point closer to Championship to re-evaluate circumstances would be of huge benefit to not only the competitiveness of the championship but also the mental and physical welfare of the players who have given years of their life to the Association.

“In the event that Government advice is unfavourable and travel is not permitted without issue, at least we can say we have stood together and provided a level playing field for our sport.

Yours in Sport.

Le Meas,

London Ladies Gaelic Football Team”

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