The General Assembly of the Football Association of Ireland has exceeded the Government gender balance requirement following the ratification of the appointments of Ursula Scully and Laura Finnegan O’Halloran to the Board of the FAI.The appointments bring the Board up to 14 Directors and ensures that the Association surpasses the gender balance requirements set out by Government with 43 per cent female representation on the Board. Last December, the General Assembly voted in favour of expanding the Board to add two more female Directors with Ursula and Laura now joining Catherine Guy, Liz Joyce, Niamh O'Mahony and Maeve McMahon on the Board. The appointments are hugely significant in securing Government funding but also in showing leadership in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion to encourage more women to be involved in football in key positions. Ursula returns to the FAI Board following a two-year spell from 2019 to 2021. She is the secretary of the North Tipperary Schoolchildren's Football League and a committee member with the Munster FA. Ursula has been elected as a Football Director to the Board.
Laura, a Lecturer in Sport Management and Talent Development in SETU Waterford and known for her research into football development, has been elected as an Independent Director.
She already sits on the committee of her local club Tramore AFC, where she has made a massive impact at the club as per her peers at Graun Park.
She will be far from the only Waterford interest in the FAI board rooms going forward. President Paul Cooke is a Waterford native too, as is schoolboys representative Tom Browne.
Secretary at Tramore AFC, Paul Power, says Finnegan O’Halloran will make a massive impact if given the chance to do so.
"Her full name would be Dr. Laura Finnegan [O'Halloran] so the board are very fortunate to have her involved. She's an innovative thinker on the game and she has done numerous reports on the development of young players."
She joined the committee at Graun Park in the past twelve months but had previously been involved with the girl's side of the club before that.
"We always put a lot of emphasis on the technical side of the game in Tramore AFC but for the development of any organisation, you have to look at all factors - particularly at the elite level. They [the FAI] need a little additional thinking on the sports science. Possibly in Ireland, we don't do enough on that side of the game - I know its improving - but people like Laura, I'd imagine the FAI should use her in that role, and in the development of young players in the Republic Of Ireland."
Chair of the FAI Board Tony Keohane said: "On behalf of the FAI Board, I would like to congratulate both Ursula and Laura on their appointments. I have no doubt that they will be fantastic additions to what is now a highly-skilled Board who are passionate about helping to continue developing Irish football at all levels."FAI President Paul Cooke said: "I would like to welcome Ursula and Laura to the FAI Board following their elections. The Board will benefit from this addition of two Directors who have strong backgrounds in business, education and football. "I would also like to thank members of the General Assembly for ratifying these appointments which help us to meet the Government quota of female representation on our Board."