Loreto, Letterkenny may be the only Donegal secondary school involved in Gaelic sports that won’t get any tickets to the Sept. 23rd All-Ireland final between Donegal and Mayo, a teacher said yesterday.
The other secondary and primary schools in Donegal all get an allocation of tickets through the Vocational Schools, Colleges and Cumann na mBunscol associations. It seems as if the all-girls Letterkenny school is the only one to lose out.
“We just feel like we’re being discriminated against because all the mixed schools and all the boys schools get them,” said Mary Bourne, who teaches at the school and works with the Gaelic teams.
“We’ve been playing Gaelic a good few years,” Mary said. They have been doing well, too. Loreto’s U-20 girls reached the All-Ireland semi-final in Gaelic football last year and the U-16 team reached the Ulster final in Gaelic this year.
Mary has been on the phone with different offices in the last few weeks to see if there were any tickets for the school but she is still no further forward. The Ulster Ladies Gaelic Football Association referred her to the Ladies Gaelic Football Association at Croke Park, who said they did not allocate tickets to schools or clubs. Mary also contacted the organisers of the competitions in which the school teams participated, but there was no allocation there either.
The school has not received tickets to the men’s final in the past, but Mary said: “We just thought this year, with Donegal being in it, there might be an exception made.”
Mary Keegan of the Ulster Ladies Gaelic Football Association, based in Armagh, said there was an argument that since women have their own association and own All-Ireland Final, that the women’s association would cover the girls teams and the GAA cover the boys teams. Another argument would say that both associations are in the business of promoting Gaelic games, she said.
“There are two arguments and I can see them both,” Mary Keegan said.
“Obviously I would love to see the ladies association get more tickets, but I can see where the GAA is coming from on it,” she said.
The Ulster official said the ladies association couldn’t survive without GAA support. “Their pitches and facilities we use for our games,” she said. “They would be supportive of us. We have our own identity, our own association, a separate constitution and structure, but we are facilitated by the GAA.”
She said she understood where Mary Bourne was coming from. “They are promoting Gaelic games within the school and I totally agree with that,” Mary Keegan said. “But it’s always been that way.”
Mary Bourne at Loreto said the students on the team see it as a question of fairness. A student asked her yesterday, “‘Are we getting justice?’ That’s the way they would be looking at it, that they’re not treated fairly,” the Loreto teacher said.