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First ever televised Women’s National League match goes down in history 

Tolka Park made history on Saturday, October 2nd, as the first Women’s National League (WNL) match between Shelbourne FC and DLR Waves was broadcasted live on TG4.  

DLR Waves player Fiona Donnelly told The Liberty how she felt about her match being broadcasted on TG4: “it’s another big step for women’s football in Ireland.”

“The matches being televised gives the league a chance to be recognised and the endless work that goes into it both on and off the pitch.” 

Fiona Donnelly- DLR Waves

DLR Waves striker Katie Malone backs her teammate, highlighting the importance of coverage for women’s football. “It’s been a long time coming and 100% well deserved. For some games to be shown on TG4 is massive for this league.” 

Earlier on in the season LOITV was established which allowed anyone sign up to it and watch all Women’s National League games for free.  

“When I was growing up all that was on tv were men’s games and I never saw much of a career path in women’s football,” Malone says. “Now that younger girls can see women’s sport on TV it means a lot to me simply because I didn’t have that growing up.” 

This step towards gender equality in sport recently followed the announcement made by many WNL clubs that they are going to void the ‘pay to play’ scheme. 

“Little by little the women’s game is becoming more equal to the men’s game and it’s great to see,” Malone says. 

Excitement and nerves surrounded the players on the upcoming days to the big match.  

“It’s a day of history in this league and to be a part of it is something I along with my teammates are all very proud of”. 

Katie Malone, DLR Waves Striker

Captain of Shelbourne FC Pearl Slattery agrees. 

“It’s a great buzz, ever since we heard we would play in the first game live on TV, we haven’t stopped talking about it,” Slattery says. “Everyone at the club is excited and for it to be at Tolka Park is even more special for us all.”  

 

Photo by Aly McGrath

Since the beginning of 2021 there have been many improvements in terms of growth for women’s football.

Slattery has high hopes for the future of the league. “There’s great talent on show within our league and the more we get out there, whether its TV or radio, the better.” 

“This league needs to inspire the next generations of female footballers, so the more exposure it gets the more it will be able to do that.” 

This year the WNL got its own sponsors; international players got equal pay between men and women’s teams; they are being viewed on the same streaming services; and they now play in the same stadium as their male counterparts.  

Malone tells The Liberty that “these are all massive steps that have only occurred in 2021 alone so who knows what 2022 will bring? I can’t wait to wait and see what happens overs the next few years.” 

TG4’s first player of the match was Shelbourne’s striker Noelle Murray. 

“I’m delighted to receive it, it was a very tough game coming back after having a couple of weeks off,” Murray says. “I knew it would take a big team effort to get us to win.” 

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