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Moloney worried women’s soccer will suffer in FAI fallout

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In a fortnight where positive stories about soccer in Ireland have been few and far between, Chloe Moloney has predicted that if anyone is to suffer from the suspension of Sport Ireland funding to the FAI, it will be the women while she’s also optimistic of progressing her own football career.

As The Clare Echo’s 20×20 Can’t See Can’t Be series continues, this week we put the spotlight on one of the county’s rising stars in the beautiful game which over the past week has been pretty ugly when it comes to the financial activity and lack of honesty provided by high power figures within the FAI.

For the past two years, Chloe has been a permanent fixture in the defence of Peamount United, prior to that she lined out with Galway WFC for sixteen months while Connolly Celtic was the first port of a call for a then thirteen year old Moloney where she honed her craft under the watchful eyes of Sean Cregan and Irene Hehir having been spotted by Denis Hynes.

Before that, sporting memories were consigned to Ladies Football with Kilmurry Ibrickane and a beloved memory of being the mascot for the 2002 Bricks when they won the Jack Daly with her father, Aidan ‘Horse’ Moloney as captain.

His support together with her mother Martina’s and siblings has been invaluable assisting with transportation to various trainings and trials. “I used to drag him out onto the lawn when I was younger, he pushed me a lot back then but as I got older I got the trials to go to Dublin and both my parents, my brothers and sisters drove me to get buses when I needed to. Every trial I had Dad came with me and it was up and down the same day, he had to take work off and it was very tough but it was all worth it in the end, he’s been a huge part of it. I live here for the summer so I’ve to get the bus up for the summer. Without any of them I wouldn’t be where I am today”.

Currently a sports coaching and business management student at IT Carlow, Chloe is hoping to venture into coaching in the future and has already completed a UEFA C licence and will soon add the B equivalent.

Having made international appearances at U16, U17 and U19 level, receiving a call-up to the senior side from Colin Bell is one the former St Josephs Spanish Point student is eager to get. “That’s what you want, everyone is trying to get a call off Colin Bell but it’s tough. I play centre back so we have Louise Quinn and Niamh Fahey, they’re playing for Arsenal and Liverpool, it’s always going to be tough to take their places but I’m still only twenty so I’ve plenty more time, that’s the aim I want to play for my country”.

Bell has been in the role for over two years and Moloney praised the ex Leicester City player’s attendance at domestic games and subsequent rewards dished out to players impressing plus his strong advocating for English clubs to sign the best of the Irish talent.

Two years ago, the Irish women’s team spoke out about their similarities to “fifth class citizens” as they were forced to share tracksuits and tog off in toilets. Chloe is thankful to the players before her for taking a stand on the issue. “When the girls had to fight to get paid, I think that says a lot when you have to go through so much of a process to even get what they’re getting. The men on the seniors are professionals so they’re getting a couple of grand a week and it was an effort to give the girls €50 a week or €300 on a matchday and God knows what the men get. They weren’t allowed keep their tracksuits and that just says a lot when you compare them to the men, they sorted it out and fair play to the girls that were there because it needed to happen”.

Although from March to November, she lines out in the top flight of the National Women’s League, Chloe receives no expenses and is instead is forced to go asking for the money to cover her costs. “We have to get our own sponsorship at the start of the season and give it to the club, it’s hard going out asking people for money, that’s the difficult part but in fairness when I have gone I’ve got it, there is a lot of supportive people especially around Clare. It’s tough, we’d love to get a big main sponsor. Travel expenses are not given to us which is a pity, it would make it a lot easier, one of my friends is in Carlow with me so she drives up and we just give her money. In the summer I’m getting the bus or my dad is driving me and it is a fair trek up to Dublin so it does add up. In fairness I have the support of my parents always, I can’t really complain in that way but it would be better for them and for me if I could get expenses or even again someone sponsoring me for something like that. It’s the highest league in Ireland for women, I’m pretty sure if a man from Clare was playing with Cork City or Dundalk and playing in the FAI Cup Final there would be a big deal made out of him, I’m not saying there isn’t a big deal made out of me, I do get support but I just think if there was a man from Clare playing at that level there would definitely be a few people trying to sponsor him”.

Despite this work, she is of the view trying to secure sponsors has not put women off staying in the Irish league. However, recent furore surrounding their governing body, the FAI may make life more difficult when it comes to trying to get sponsors on board in the future. “I know a lot of people are confused and you’re going to hear so many stories and I’m sure it will all come out eventually. The likes of Sport Ireland are giving millions, if they lose that it’s a lot of money and it could affect like the wages of Colin Bell because I can guarantee you if they are cutting anything it will be the women’s side of it before the men’s which is an awful thing to say but I think that will probably happen. I’d say there will be cutbacks,” the Quilty woman predicted.

On why she feels the women would be first to suffer cutbacks and if that general perception can change, Chloe said, “I can’t really see it changing at the minute because the men are going to come first at the minute either way which is wrong. With all the fighting that the girls did for what they got and they still didn’t get a whole lot but they were happy to get something, it will cause World War if they cut the women’s side of it again which would be justified because it doesn’t deserve to be cut. They’ve European Qualifiers starting in September and they will need support from the FAI, imagine the men not getting support for their European Qualifiers. The U19 or U21 boys are getting a lot more than what the women are getting which says a lot for the senior women’s team, they’re still representing their country, they go to camp for ten days, they’re still training as hard as everyone else and they go back to their clubs and train everyday like the men but the girls here are either in college or doing their own extra training, it’s no different”.

Peamount Utd fans will be delighted to read that the club is her sole focus for now and seeing them qualify for the Champions League in her opinion is the best way to progress her own career though getting to play professionally in the Premier League is understandably the dream and a realistic one at that.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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