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Seeing as 80 percent of young women say they feel more confident as a result of playing for their national team, why not encourage their dream to become a reality?

Boots Ireland has kicked off their three-year partnership with the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team to nurture this confidence in girls and women, and we're loving the support.

Only seven percent of the Irish population have attended a live women's sporting event, which is pretty shocking. Women in sport aren't celebrated as much as their male counterparts, which needs to change.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to a Boots survey, 76 percent of the Irish population believe that female sports stars should be equally celebrated, but sponsorships can help to draw in the funds needed to air the matches.

Legendary Republic of Ireland captain and Arsenal midfielder Katie McCabe announced the partnership between the national team and Boots Ireland to boost confidence in our sporty ladies.

Recent research from UEFAi found that awareness and participation in women’s football has created a powerful impact on the confidence of girls and women, with the Women's World Cup this year drawing in record numbers of viewers. The demand for women in sport is definitely there. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Irish national team is currently competing in the UEFA Women’s Championship qualifiers, kicking off this September with Ireland facing off against Montenegro.

Interestingly, one-third of women feel great about themselves while playing sport, while 31 percent of women who play sports feel happier. 45 percent feel healthier, so what's to lose?

As part of the partnership, Boots will be shining a light on the amazing role models within the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team, who will be inspiring the next generation of female footballers and sportswomen.

Republic of Ireland Captain Katie McCabe said: “I am delighted to launch the partnership between Boots Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"As a team, we have a big couple of months ahead, with qualifying for the European Championships starting next month. It was great to see the women’s game get the exposure it deserves during the Women’s World Cup.”

Women's football is growing in every area; be it commercial, participation and performance. Our gals are going from strength to strength, and we owe it to them to support the team.

Boots Ireland hopes to encourage more women and girls to get involved in the great game by watching, supporting and playing football, whilst feeling good too.

Feature image: Instagram/@katie_mccabe11

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A GoFundMe campaign that is blowing up with over €200k raised for former Cork footballer Kieran O’Connor. 

The campaign has been set up to help him and his family with current living and future medical expenses to beat Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer.

Kieran was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a rare form of bone cancer. 

In the summer, Kieran went through aggressive chemotherapy for 3-4 months to shrink the tumour enough so that the surgeons could go ahead with his operation. 

The surgeon operated on the tumour and shaved off 110mm of bone and attached ligament as part of the repair.

Over the last few months, the 39-year-old was suffering from persistent pains in his leg and the wound was not healing fully.

In January 2019 he had to have another serious operation and his lower leg was amputated.

Kieran’s local club Aghada GAA Club have also set up a 5KM walk as a fundraiser along the scenic Rostellan Peoples Path. 

While trying to recover from the amputation, he started experiencing bad back pains, and last week his family were all devastated to find out that his cancer had spread.

Kieran is a fighter, he is back on chemo treatment this week battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for the third time in 18 months.

Kieran’s friends have set up this campaign as funds are needed to help Kieran with all aspects on further treatment and care, as well as potential prosthetic costs following his lower leg amputation and to help support his family.

If you can help at all click here and donate what you can. 

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Former Dublin footballer, not to mention five-time All Ireland winner Denis Bastick has been revealed as the seventh contestant for this year's Dancing With The Stars.

The star sat down with The Nicky Byrne Show on 2FM live to comment on why he swapped his football boots for some dancing shoes to try his hand at winning series three's glitterball;

“I really feel that this will be a great experience for me. It is completely different than anything I have ever done before. Since retiring from Dublin football I always wanted to try new things, I never imagined that this would be one of those things though!"

Commenting further on his career so far, Bastick said;

"Football has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and DWTS is now presenting me with a massive challenge and the opportunity to accomplish something that is in such contrast to what I’m used to."

The contestant also expressed his nerves at the idea of competing at such a high level of dancing, but he's got a whole team of support from his Dublin GAA fanbase.

Speaking about the standard of dance which is expected of the show's participants, Bastick said;

"I am slightly overwhelmed at the task in hand having seen what the dancers can do. They have amazing, athleticism, rhythm and coordination. I have probably one of those qualities so I will really need to put the work in!”

Denis will join Clelia Murphy, Mairead Ronan, Eilish O’Carroll, Darren Kennedy, Fred Cooke and Holly Carpenter on series three of the hit show.

Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne are this year's official presenters, and the series will air on RTÉ One for 12 weeks from Sunday 6 January.

Dancing With The Stars has a grand total of 11 celebrities, who pair up with their professional dancing partners as they cross their boundaries and try an entirely new talent.

Stepping onto the dancefloor to compete for the much-coveted glitter ball trophy, each pair will have a different dancing genre to master every week. The duos will have just seven days to perfect their routine before performing live on national television. 

The expert panel of judges Brian Redmond, Loraine Barry and Julian Benson are returning again this year. The celebrities and their dancers will be scored by the judges and the viewing audiences at home.

The treats don't end there for viewers; Can’t Stop Dancing, the preview show hosted by Bláthnaid Treacy, will be back on our screens on Friday, 4 January on RTÉ One

All of the glitz, glamour and gossip that happens behind the scenes will be delved into. Get the low down from the judges, the professional dancers and the stars before the main action begins. 

We absolutely CANNOT WAIT for Sunday 6 January, get yourselves ready.

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World-renowned footballer Ada Hegerberg had just been crowned the first ever female recipient of the Ballon d'Or award, which essentially is a marker that you are the best player IN THE WORLD btw, when French DJ Martin Solveig put his foot in it.

He created a hugely awkward moment on stage when he asked the gifted player if she could 'twerk', to which she curtly responded with a simple 'No'.

We probably would have responded in a much less classy manner, but that's a testament to how much sexism she has presumably had to deal with as a female footballer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The 42-year-old DJ claimed that the Lyon and Norway superstar forward, despite answering "no" – had told him after the ceremony that she "understood it was a joke".

Hegerberg also told BBC Sport she "didn't consider it sexual harassment" after the 23-year-old was recognised as the world's best player in Paris

It was all the more awkward seeing as the footballer's speech was referencing her hopes of inspiring girls to believe in themselves.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The reaction on social media was swift and furious, with tennis player Andy Murray commenting on the matter; "Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport."

"To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke… it wasn't. I've been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal."

Solveig took to Twitter to express his apologies, but claimed that it was a total misunderstanding.

He also uploaded a video, claiming that anyone who has known him for a while is aware of his respect for women, and that it was taken out of context;

We don't quite know what to think of this one.

Do you think the question was out of line, and that Murray is right in saying that sexism still exists in sport?

Or do you think this all blown way out of proportion? 

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They were set to play the All-Ireland qualifier against Cavan this Saturday.

Nevertheless, it seems that all is not well with the Mayo ladies football team. 

Reports have just emerged that there has been a mass walk out, with 10 players leaving the squad.

The Mayo News has said that the dispute was caused by welfare issues. 

The players who have walked include captain Sarah Tierney, vice-captain Fiona MacHale and Cora Staunton.

The team selector Michel MacHale – who is the father of Fiona MacHale – has also left the set-up.

The paper reports that the players informed manager Peter Leahy of their decision and then the county board.

Public Relations Officer Susan Rodgers confirmed that players had left the squad in the last week.

''Mayo Ladies County Board can confirm that a number of players have departed the county panel. Preparations are ongoing for Saturday’s All-Ireland Qualifier against Cavan and we will not be making any further comment until that game is over,'' she confirmed. 

Mayo would have been considered championship contenders going into this season after losing last year's All-Ireland final to Dublin.

Watch this space but it sure looks like the future of the Mayo ladies football team is on uncertain ground for the time being.  

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"I feel like the term 'queer athlete' is a funny term because it puts sexual orientation before a camp that is more important. We're all athletes, and then we're who we are."

That's some much-needed wisdom from Katelyn, a rugby player who you'll learn more about. I felt I needed to start with this quote because I'll probably throw around the term 'queer athletes' a lot in this piece, simply because it's a bit less tortured than saying 'athletes who happen to be queer' over and over again. 

Make no mistake though – I agree with her. She has a valid point about a person's queerness simply being a part of who they are, and sport being an active choice. 

One thing I learned through these conversations, however, was that people vary in the way they express their queer identity, and sometimes that expression can impact a their experience as an athlete. 

The four people I spoke to in the lead-up to Pride Week are passionate athletes and they're queer. Seeing as it's Pride, I wanted to shine a light on what it's like to be an LGBT person in sport.

Their answers varied, as much as queer athletes do themselves. 

Michael Kavanagh

Michael is a trans man, and being trans, his queer identity comes into direct play with how he expresses his identity as an athlete.

He currently plays rugby on women's teams, but once he medically transitions he will have to switch to a men's team because he'll be on testosterone. 

The 22-year-old says that sport can be a 'grey area' regarding gender at times:

"While I'm legally recognised as a male, because of my body, my biology and everything, I'm still considered to be in a female league, so I still play on the women's team even though I'm a man.”

The flanker says that he feels a 'bit of conflict' when it comes to playing on a women's team, but that overall he doesn't mind because, "Have you seen rugby women? They are tough. They are tough as nails."

He explained, "I feel very at home with the women on the team and they've seen me grow up, basically. So I'm not uncomfortable with them at all. Sometimes yes, the fact that I'm a guy on a girls' team rubs me up the wrong way.”

However, he feels that before he medically transitions, he’d feel uncomfortable physically on a men’s team, such as in the locker room.

As for as trans athletes in Ireland, the rugby player says he feels bolstered by the fact that trans men are getting great recognition in Ireland, such as the GALAS Sport Award winner Cameron Keighron.

Michael says that trans women have a much more difficult time remaining involved in athletics, though. He thinks the stigma around trans people must be dispelled in order for trans athletes, especially women, to be accepted:

"It's this whole idea that to be taking hormones, or if you were assigned male at birth and you're coming in to play against people assigned female at birth, it's this assumption that male bodies automatically have better qualities and an upper hand compared to female bodies.

"I don't know a trans person who's trying to use their biology to come in and dominate a sport. They just want to play the sport in the team or in the category that matches their gender."

Michael hopes that national sports teams will make an open show of trans-inclusiveness, saying that vocal support coupled with education can help end the stigma around being trans.

For now, Michael will continue playing rugby and move to a men's team when the time comes in his medical transition.

The Emerald Warriors, a men's team, have already told him that he's welcome to join, as they've had men who are pre-, mid-, and post-transition play with them.

When I asked if he had advice for fellow trans men who're athletes, he replied:

"I suppose, my advice would be that you don't have to compromise one identity for the other. I always thought my trans identity and my sporting identity were in conflict, that if I wanted to excel in one I had to subdue the other. And it's just not like that.”

Katelyn and Louise

When Katelyn joined Trinity's women's rugby team during her year abroad, she didn't realise she meet her now-girlfriend, Louise.

They're on a club team together now, with Katelyn, 23, playing flyhalf and Louise, 25, playing flanker.

The couple said that their team is made up of women of a number of sexual orientations.

The main issues they spoke about arose from less from being queer, in their eyes, and rather the expectations around women's place in sport.

"Realistically, most clubs in Ireland – I'm reluctant to include the GAA but I think I have to – are run by men of a certain age, of a certain wealth. And their impression of women in sport is to stay in good shape, to attend the dinner with men – and that's just the way it is!" Louise said.

"We're really lucky that we're definitely not in a club that's like that, and there's a lot of clubs that aren't like that.”

Women's rugby hasn't been given the respect that it deserves for years, especially in the IRFU. Recently, women in the game have been more vocal about their frustration with how the IRFU treats them, but they've also been met with much backlash.

"There's a sentiment for maybe another generation of people in those high positions that see women's rugby players as these angry, unappreciative lesbians who will fight, and fight, and fight, but are angry about a life they've chosen," Katelyn told me.

They said that even in Trinity, the women's team has been continually passed over in favour of the men's team.

Katelyn explained, "The girls that are good in rugby want to go somewhere they're taken care of, like DCU or UCD or Carlow, where they're given coaching and made to feel like they're important.

"That's where the attention needs to be – forget about queer athletes, let's just talk about women athletes. That's really where the difference is."

Louise made the point, though, that image is an area where you can sometimes see a difference between queer and straight athletes off the pitch. 

Katelyn said, "I think that is one of the big differences between queer athletes and straight athletes is that, especially in Ireland, straight athletes have an additional game you have to play with keeping up your appearance and almost pretending that you're not an athlete."

"…You’re compensating for how good you are on the pitch because you wouldn't want to be perceived as manly or gay, god forbid," Katelyn imparted.

When I asked for their last words on the subject, Katelyn said that she thinks talking about queer athletes or other groups of queer people can sometimes put a label on something that doesn’t need to be labelled.

Thinking about this, Louise said she'd be interested to see the topic from another angle and understand how straight people perceive queer athletes.

Katelyn concluded, "It's almost like you need to be having the opposite conversation."

Oli Riordan

Oli was an avid football player growing up, and he's kept on kicking as a 22-year-old.

Being bisexual, the striker said that he was comfortable talking about girls with fellow club players growing up and just didn't bring up guys.

Now, though, he's playing on one of Ireland's two gay and inclusive football teams – the Dublin Devils, which welcomes players who are gay, straight, and everything in between. He's been with the Devils going on four years.

They’re heading to the Paris Gay Games in August to represent Team Ireland alongside athletes from other sports as well. Oli told me he’s excited to meet queer people from all over the world.

"It's not just about sports, it's about community and bringing everything together and celebrating diversity. There's going to be an awful lot of social aspects as well as the sporting competition which I'm really looking forward to," he expressed.

I asked if he preferred playing on a team where being queer is a central focus.

"I prefer playing with a gay team just because it's a lot easier, there's a lot less pressure, to just be yourself," the footballer replied.

"When you first come out to a group of people, you're never quite sure how everyone's going to take it. So, being able to turn up to football training or just a kick about and not have that expectation of having to bring it up and having to weather the storm."

He thinks, though, that we have a massive way to go until the presence of queer athletes is normalised in sport, particularly in football. Oli feels that the system needs to change in order to make coming out a viable option for professional footballers.

"The football association in England, their basic approach to it whenever someone goes up to them and says 'Are you going to legislate to make it easier for players to come out?', they say, 'Well, this would be a problem if there were any gay football players'," Oli explained.

"You're talking about tens of thousands of men, and you're telling me that there's not one queer man in that entire – that's not even including the club staff! So I think there needs to be a massive change, especially in football… It has to happen at a club and organisation level."

As for his own experience, Oli says that it can be tough at times being on one of Ireland's only gay and inclusive football teams.

He said, "I think probably the worst thing is how we have to keep justifying our existence as a team, because… every time we're in the press, there are all sorts of people saying, why is there a gay team? You know, it just becomes… it's fatiguing."

Before the interview ended, I asked if he had anything else he wanted to say about being a queer athlete.

He took his time before responding, "I think what I would want to say is that if there are queer people out there who are also into sport, who have been told that they can't be into sport because they're queer, don't lose hope. There are places for you. There are people that will accept you.

"And if I had known when I was younger that one day I would be playing for a gay team and having the best time playing football ever, that would have been really, really great for me to know…

"Whatever sport you're into, you can find a group of people that will accept you. And if not, start your own…

"Whatever city you're in, if you are queer and you love football or you love whatever sport, get a group of you together, play, and you can start your own team. And we'll look forward to meeting you on the pitch."

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Okay, I'll be the first to admit I don't really get football. 

Like sure it's entertaining to watch people go wild when their team scores or watch the hilarious injuries (10/10 for dramatic deleivery), but it still doesn't hold a huge appeal. 

However, I would DEFINITELY watch if this gal was the commentator. Meet  Alison Finlay, a student from London and our new hero. 

Her boyfriend was delayed on his commute home, so instead of missing the FIFA World Cup game between England and Tunisia, he asked Alison to give him a play-by-play of the action. 

“He had to work late and hoped he’d make it back (for the game) but didn't, so asked me to fill him in. I kindly obliged!” Alison told the Press Association

After England won the match 2-1, Alison uploaded her texts to the Internet, which went wild for her. 

Our personal favourite is: 

"A Tunisian man is on the floor [sic]. Looks like he got hit in the hair. The referee is uninterested. the man with the injured hair is not pleased." 

 She also takes the piss out of soccer player's hair, which at half an hour into the game she observes that "everyone's hair is holding up well."

Oh as for the injures? She's calling BS on them. 

"This time and Englishman received a light tap and fell down violently." LOL. 

 Thanks to the popularity of her original tweet, she uploaded the rest of the conversation which was equally as hilarious. 

Twitter is loving it, with many begging her to live tweet the rest of the World Cup. 

Can she just narrate our lives please? 

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Shelbourne FC have released a statement following the untimely death of 16-year-old Izzy Dezu, who died after collapsing during a Dublin and District Schoolboys Under-16 match against St Kevin’s Boys last night.

It has been established that the teenager became unwell during the second half of the match and was treated by paramedics from Dublin Fire Brigade before being transferred to Beaumont Hospital .

Tragically, Izzy lost his fight for life and was pronounced dead at the Dublin hospital.

Paying tribute to the teenager, Shelbourne FC said: "We are heartbroken to have to confirm the news that our Academy U16 player, Izzy Dezu, collapsed and died during a match last night."

"The thoughts of everyone at Shelbourne FC are with his family and friends who have been devastated by his tragic loss. May he rest in peace."

St. Kevin’s have taken to Twitter to remember the young footballer, writing: "We at St Kevin’s Boys Fc would like to pass on our condolences to the family, friends and everybody at Shelbourne Football Club after their young academy player Izzy Dezu collapsed and died in a game last night."

"Very sad news. Rest In Peace, young man," they added.

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With a match against Slovakia scheduled for Monday night, Ireland’s senior women’s football team would normally have spent this week focusing on game tactics and strategies. 

However, preparations came to a halt on Wednesday as the ladies entered into talks with the FAI.

Earlier this week, the squad held a press conference where they highlighted numerous issues and a general lack of professionalism in the national program. 

Proper training gear, gym membership and qualification bonuses were just some of the concerns the team wanted to address and it now seems the ladies have managed to strike a deal after nine hours of talks. 

16 players, three PFAI representatives, two SIPTU officials, and PFAI General Secretary, Stephen McGuinness, consulted with the representatives from the FAI via a mediator in a Dublin hotel on Wednesday night. 

The lengthy talks proved successful for the squad with a financial package, estimated to be in the region of €100,000, agreed upon.

According to The Irish Examiner, the payment of a €300 match fee, additional win and draw bonuses, compensation for loss of earnings and appropriate tracksuits were among the some of the issues addressed in the comprehensive deal.

In a statement, SIPTU’s Ethel Buckley, hailed the victory as a “landmark agreement [which] was only possible due to the organisation, bravery and commitment of the national team players.’’

She also spoke about what the result meant for gender inequalities in Ireland: “I think this dispute is bigger than football… I think it touched something in the country, even among people who have no interest in football, because it spoke so much to gender relations in the country right now.''

''And it was striking that it was out of football, something which has traditionally been seen as quite a male bastion, that this push came for women’s rights generally.”

Ireland's ladies were back in business last night, and preparations are in full swing for their clash with Slovakia on Monday.

G'wan girls!

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There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Ireland’s women’s international football team and the FAI recently.

Earlier this week, team members called a press conference in order to voice their concerns regarding the lack of professionalism within the national team program.

Players revealed that they had to change in public bathrooms before matches and claimed they often have to share tracksuits with the youth national team members.

The team suggested that they may refuse to take part in their friendly against Slovakia on Monday if the situation doesn’t improve, and it seems that today the girls will not attend training ahead of that match.

Ollie Cahill, PFAI Ireland Player Executive, said: "At a team meeting the members of the Women's National Team decided that they are unfortunately unable to attend today's training camp.

He added "The players have not taken this decision lightly. The players wish to make clear that they simply want the FAI to respect their right to choose their own representatives and have all the outstanding issues which are affecting their ability to achieve their maximum potential for their country resolved in a swift, amicable and professional manner."

The team and their PFA Ireland and SIPTU representatives will attend a meeting this evening to discuss the issues.

 

 

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Ending a four-year long campaign to clear his name, footballer Ched Evans has been found NOT guilty of raping a teenager on a drunken night out. 

Mr Evans had faced a retrial over the alleged attack on a 19-year-old woman at a Premier Inn in north Wales in May 2011. 

An earlier conviction had found him guilty of rape. 

A jury took just two hours to clear the 27-year-old of one count of rape at Cardiff Crown Court today.

The former international striker for Wales has always maintained his innocence, maintaining that the sex was consensual.

He spent two-and-a-half years in prison as part of his original sentence. 

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Well, we didn't really expect this.

Nicky Byrne is known to have a passion for football, having played on teams when he was younger, but now, it looks like he's going to take another stab at it.

The radio presenter joined Baldoyle Grange United, and even won his first match last weekend, despite of the rain.

Nicky took to Twitter to tell his fans the good news:

He wrote: "Deal done on deadline day. I've just signed for Baldoyle Grange United. Great to return to my roots!"

The former Westlife singer even shared a video of his first match:

Fair play, Nicky!

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