For years, women’s sport in Ireland has been virtually ignored by the Irish Media, given token mentions tacked onto the end of the ‘real’ sports stories.
It wasn’t until Katie Taylor’s gold medal at the 2012 Olympics that the nation took notice of anything our sportswomen were doing. She has and continues to do a lot for her chosen sport, lobbying for its inclusion at the Olympics and has subsequently helped to push women’s sport to the forefront of the media.
Last year the Irish women’s Rugby team won the 6 Nations for the first time in history. Even more spectacularly they did so via a Grand Slam. However, it went by virtually unnoticed, until the final result. They played their home games in Ashbourne on the same weekends as the men’s games but without the presence of TV cameras.
This year the women’s team made their debut at the Aviva Stadium and played their first 6 nations match against Italy directly after the men’s game. It was also televised and while it still reeks of an ‘after thought’ it is a small step in the right direction.
However, the women’s rugby team has been in existence since 1993. So why did it take that win in 2013 for them to get the recognition they deserve? TV execs may argue that televising their matches would have been a waste of airtime, as they have a smaller fan base, but the more accessible the sport is the more popular it will ultimately become. And with the amount of prominent negative role models for young women, portraying the image that being thin and wearing very little clothes is something to aspire to, fit and healthy women should be celebrated.
After all our Irish sportswomen are proving to be just as successful as our men.