Since 2013 the Republic of Ireland’s Women’s National Team have laid claim to Shamrock Rovers’s ground Tallaght Stadium as their own.
Recent moves to equality such as even pay for the men’s and women’s Irish outfits and the groundbreaking Sky sponsorship have raised the question amongst many as to why the leap hasn’t been taken to the Aviva Stadium on par with their male counterparts.
Here’s a broad-spectrum look as to those reasons and also a glance to the logic for a migration to the national stadium.
Staying put in their new “home”
1. Yet to sell out Tallaght consistently
Ireland 3-2 Australia— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) September 21, 2021
What a way to welcome back fans!
That was a top class performance from Ireland against a VERY good Australian side. The energy, the composure and calmness on the ball plus some excellent defending.
BIG win. A result that was a long time coming.#IREAUS pic.twitter.com/NluZ1lbeVD
23 times the Girls in Green have taken to the hallowed turf of the Whitestown Way pitch. 23 times short of the max fan capacity.
7500 the magic number, the closest in pursuit is that of 2019’s Ukraine match with 5,328 supporters in witness to the 3-2 triumph.
The most recent affair last month against Australia saw 3,314 people in attendance, but under the guise of Covid restrictions the possibilities are masked with quantity caps.
The FAI keen to stay put and regularly draw persistent numbers in before exploring the option of a transfer, the next international break where Ireland are to take on Sweden and Slovakia on Emerald Isle soil may prove a litmus test.
2. Fan culture needs to cultivate
Perceptions changing around the world as we speak, those very Swedes set turnout records themselves recently and went viral in the process.
Circulating socials with 18,537 followers in the Tele2 Arena chanting and jeering for the Stockholm Derby participants they underscored a facet of women’s football that needs development in this country.
Creating atmosphere is no scientific formula and undoubtedly takes time to forge but while it is slowly but surely sprouting in Tallaght it may be drowned out in the c. 51700 seat setting of the Aviva.
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3. The side are just acclimatised to the setting
“Obviously someday it would be so special to play in the Aviva but for now Tallaght is our home” says Irish stalwart centre back Louise Quinn when asked about the possibility
Just getting used to the environment lately, the Birmingham City captain believes that the group have “learned to love” the national team’s base.
“I think a few years back it kind of didn’t feel like a home for some reason and I don’t know why but the quality of the stadium, the new stand has just kind of has made this sort of atmosphere and less wind running through the middle of it which used to be tough.”
“We’ve got to be selling out Tallaght before thinking of taking that next step up” she says.
For now then the aspiration of the Dublin 4 amphitheatre is to remain “a dream.”
Why we should pave the way to history with both MNT and WNT at Lansdowne Road
The tides of expectation are transforming and with it the strides towards parity too.
All over the world women’s football is being put on an advanced platform on years gone by, a podium it should always have been likened to.
The NWSL set an attendance peak of 27,248 in the August just gone by, while the WSL has summit numbers tuning into its matches this year thanks to increased coverage.
Even if you just examined our regional neighbours; Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales are all to play their upcoming international break fixtures in their nation’s outright stadium, so the question lingers as to why Ireland don’t.
2. Precedent with other sports
1986 was the first LGFA final to be played in Croke Park, and ever since there have been efforts made to increase the congregation.
2019 saw a climax of 56, 114 packed into the bowl but that didn’t happen overnight.
Both the LGFA and Camogie Associations reacted to the new arena by setting achievable expansion targets and utilising what was available at their fingertips.
Options ranging from just opening a sole stand to low admission rates at the gate all aid the assembly potential while presenting the women’s teams the respect of contending for their various coveted prizes in the same venue as their male equivalents.
3. Financial argument made redundant when seen through Covid lens
The costs accumulated during an international matchday are indisputable, but what isn’t is adopting that as an excuse for one gender to play in the national field and the other in a League of Ireland facility.
Add the Coronavirus inflicted restrictions and subsequent lack of spectators and the justification of ticket sales is seemingly null and void.
Even when no one was granted access to stadiums around the world the games were still played in their respective coliseums, no matter the cost of lights, security, staff, pitch maintenance, insurance etc.
25, 749 fans went to the Ireland men’s face off against Qatar on Tuesday and while their record gathering lies somewhere around max from the 2017 occasion versus Austria if the same deference isn’t afforded to the WNT their ceiling will never be known.