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'Gender inequality in team sports is getting worse' | Sarah O'Donovan

One of 13 athletes who contributed to "Beyond Women in Sport", Sarah O'Donovan expressed her surprise with how the experiences of other female sportspeople differed to her own. 

Alongside the enjoyment she has taken from competing on the pitch, Sarah O'Donovan, a former camogie player with Cork and Dublin, has not always taken the same pleasure battles that were required off of it.

Unfortunately, O'Donovan cannot foresee any let up in what is expected of female athletes in their ongoing determination to be treated equally.

"I think it is getting worse," she suggested of the inequality that differentiates male and female sportspeople in Ireland. "Sometimes, I think we just take two steps forward and three steps back."

A Cork native who went on to represent Dublin at senior level, the current situation besieging Dublin camogie is from O'Donovan's perspective a perfect demonstration of where the divide still exists.

Last week, John Treacy and Willie Braine departed as managers less than one year after taking over and only two weeks before the championship was due to start.

"They're the fourth management in three years that has taken over that group of girls," noted O'Donovan of the flux within Dublin camogie in recent years.

"That group of girls have committed year on year and yet every year the Dublin County Board have failed to manage to communicate with the management team in a way that has meant they have stayed.

"Those girls deserve so much more from their board than they are getting right now and that's why I don't think we're catching up. This situation wouldn't develop in Dublin GAA.

"How can you have four different management teams walking away? It is so disheartening."

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One among 13 Irish female athletes who recently detailed their experiences of inequality in "Beyond Women in Sport", O'Donovan was amazed at how the experience of competitors from the world of athletics differed to her own.

"After reading Breege Connolly's comments, Jessie Barr's comments and Claire Mooney's comments," she explained, three athletes whose sporting experience had scarcely been touched by inequality.

"Breege Connolly made a very stark comment about the fact that she has never experienced sexism in athletics. I'd nearly send my future children to athletics if I thought that they would avoid the sexism that I've experienced.

"How have athletics managed to be so forward thinking for so long and yet team sports haven't seemed to catch up?"

Connolly, who competed for Ireland in the marathon event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, explained in conversation with OTB Sports why her experience had been largely positive.

"Sexism hasn't been a part of my life in sport which is great to be able to say," she said. "Along with my own drive, the reason I reached the Olympics is down to men. I couldn't have done it without a couple of men who backed me."

You can read the full "Beyond Women in Sport | 13 Irish athletes in their own words" here. This was part one of a two-part series and the second instalment will be published on OTBSports.com this Sunday. 

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Athletics Ireland Breege Connolly Camogie Ireland Claire Mooney GAA Jessie Barr Kerry O'Flaherty Lgfa Molly Scott Sarah O'donovan

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