Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Not happy

GAA Club Players won't rule out strike action following controversial Super 8s vote

“Everything’s an option now.”

CLUB PLAYERS ASSOCIATION secretary Declan Brennan has refused to rule out strike action in the pursuit of the newly-formed body’s goal to ‘fix the fixtures.’

The CPA was controversially denied speaking time at the GAA’s Annual Congress and Brennan broke his silence yesterday as he responded to the weekend’s controversial developments.

Despite fierce opposition from the CPA and the Gaelic Players Association, the ‘Super 8’ format for the quarter-final stage of the All-Ireland senior football championship was voted in for three years from 2018.

And Brennan said: “Everything’s an option now. It (strike) is not a road I want to go down – we want to play more games rather than strike but everything’s an option now and everything will be done to get this across the line.”

A request from the CPA to air their views at Congress was turned down and Brennan admits that members of the fledgling body have been left “confused” and “frustrated”.

He added: “Listen, everybody would be confused and frustrated. There would be an energy level throughout the country and within our own organisation – we enlisted over 3000 members at the weekend – that something wasn’t right about what happened on Saturday.

“Where do we go from here? Everybody’s taking a few days to gather their thoughts and we’ll have an executive meeting towards the end of the week and then move forward.

“This is like being beaten in the first round of the championship – we’re going through the back door now and we’ll go through whatever door we need to knock down to get something done for our members.”

A view of delegates discussing Motion 4, All Ireland Senior Football Championship James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

And Brennan also slammed the “triumphalist” nature of the reaction from delegates attending Congress when the CPA’s bid for official recognition was withdrawn on Saturday.

He said: “It was triumphalist the way some people went on on Saturday, very annoying.

“We weren’t there to back up the claims we were making and speak.

“I felt sorry for (Dermot) Earley (GPA CEO) and a couple of the counties I really respect – Tipperary and Wexford put forward the motions, and Cork spoke as well.

“But bureaucracy works in different ways and it was well led on Saturday, with key paid officials speaking at Congress one after another. Democracy wasn’t in a good place on Saturday.

“We couldn’t be there to speak but there was a small bit of applause, that triumphalism and murmurs of happiness. Our members deserve better than that.

“We’re modernising all kinds of training methods so why not modernise the way business is conducted at administrative level?

“We also put a picture on Facebook of a guy sleeping while another guy was talking – and in a wider context, some of the overseas delegates didn’t know what they were voting for.”

And Brennan completely rejected GAA CEO Páraic Duffy’s assertion that “the voice of club players has been heard.”

He said: “Absolutely not, completely disagree. No disrespect to anybody involved but it was not a good day for the Association, in how it conducted its business.

“The GAA is crushing people, suffocating the energy out of you in the hope you go away.

“People have been sending us messages of support and we’re looking to engage with key stakeholders and bring it to EGM before the end of the year. That’s what has to be done.”

Brennan also conceded that the GPA left it too late before making its view clear on the ‘super 8’ proposal – but he absolved new CEO Dermot Earley of blame.

Brennan said: “In fairness to Dermot, since he’s come in he’s been very engaging, very straight up and he spoke well on Saturday.

“The GPA should have moved much earlier and there would have been a completely different result but Dermot wasn’t in charge at that stage.”

Brennan also indicated that the quest for official recognition might not be on the table for Annual Congress next year, explaining: “I don’t mind if we’re never recognised. This is about getting a job done.”

– First published 06.35

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