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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 19 July, 2018
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€6.9m boost as government recruits top GAA stars to help health campaigns

New deal will see GPA and government tackle mental health problems, obesity, and drug and alcohol misuse.

GPA: New deal
GPA: New deal "recognises the vital economic and social contribution made by county players."
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR the Gaelic Players Association is set to be significantly restored over the next three years following the announcement of a €6.9 million package.

The GPA will receive €1.6 million from Sport Ireland in 2017 with that number increasing to €2.3 million in 2018 and €3 million in 2019.

As part of the deal, the GPA and government will develop a programme to tackle mental health problems, obesity, and drug and alcohol misuse, using the country’s top GAA stars as ambassadors.

The investment marks a major increase on the €900,000 received by the inter-county players’ body in 2015, and brings government support close to the pre-recession figure of €3.5 million per year agreed in 2007.

The financial package was announced this morning at Croke Park where Taoiseach Enda Kenny was joined by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan.

GPA CEO Dessie Farrell outlined the joint plans to tackle “some of the more intractable societal challenges in Ireland today.”

“This will happen through a more targeted approach and will leverage the role model status of many of our top county players to influence positive change,” Farrell said.

Players look forward to taking an even more prominent role in making a meaningful difference, particularly, in the lives our young people across the country.

The government funding will provide practical support to inter-county footballers and hurlers, GPA chairman Seamus Hickey said.

“This new agreement with Government is important for players as it once again recognises the vital economic and social contribution made by county players,” Hickey said.

“It reinforces the principle of parity for county players with other high performance athletes and professional sportspeople supported through State sponsored schemes.

It also provides a level of practical support to many players who are under financial pressure across the spectrum; from young students juggling their significant sporting and academic commitments to the more experienced players with young families to care for, mortgages and bills to pay while operating and performing at the highest levels in Irish sport.

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Niall Kelly

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