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'We have been suppressed by various people in the GAA over the years in the hope that we would go away'

The CPA have warned that if the rules are not applied, it will “cause damage to the future of the Association.”

CPA executive member Liam Griffin.
CPA executive member Liam Griffin.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE CLUB PLAYERS Association [CPA] have called on the GAA to apply sanctions to protect the time allocated to run off club championships later this year.

The GAA have provided an 11-week window for county boards to run-off club championships from 20 July, but some competitions will finish sooner than required to give the county side an edge in their preparations.

There’s also a concern that players will be pressurised into returning to inter-county training before club championships have been concluded. 

In a statement released by CPA, they warn that if the rules are not applied, it will “cause damage to the future of the Association.” They also say the GAA must ”clearly demonstrate parity of esteem across all its members at this most difficult crossroads.”

They are calling on the GAA to provide clarity to its membership through two questions:

  1. What are the leadership going to do to ensure all counties optimally use the 11 weeks allocated to run their championships? 
  2. What are the leadership going to do to ensure inter-county players are not asked or coerced into training with the intercounty team before they finish their club championships?

In the statement, CPA chairman Micheál Briody said: “As an association we must respect the integrity of our club competitions and this means using the time available in the best possible way. Suggestions of running of championships in blitz format or shrunk to a very tight timeframe to enable county preparations are sacrilege and will have long lasting implications.

“We recognise that 2020 has been a year like no other for us all and we wish to express our deepest sympathy to all GAA clubs who have lost members of their community during this pandemic. We know also that it is the support of clubs that has supported and consoled many bereaved families despite these difficult times of social distancing and uncertainty.

“At the highest level, the GAA have provided very clear and unambiguous leadership in completely closing club facilities at the height of the crisis. This undoubtedly saved lives. We also commend clubs and their members for coming together to help others in their communities during the pandemic. It has shown the underlying strength of the GAA lies in the grassroots community led togetherness.

“Now as we return to play our games it is very positive that club hurling and football has been allocated 11 weeks at the height of summer. It will bring a great lift to communities to get our games back underway, however we have a number of concerns we are asking GAA leadership to address.”

Executive member and former All-Ireland winning manager Liam Griffin added: “Regrettably the Association has evolved over a long number of years to where we are today. The challenge now and into the future of the GAA is to address all of the issues which are collectively causing such dissatisfaction amongst the playing population.

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He continued: “These issues have not still not been satisfactorily and properly addressed. The CPA was formed because of all those findings and the deep dissatisfaction amongst the playing population.

“We fully acknowledge that there should be no need for a CPA if those findings had been taken seriously into consideration. Regrettably despite the CPA’s engagement with the Association over almost 4 years now we have been unable to make satisfactory progress on the GAA’s own findings.”

Meanwhile, the CPA’s AGM was held recently. It saw Briordy re-elected to serve for a further year as chairman, while Tommie Kenoy and Joan Kehoe replaced Michael Higgins and Anthony Moyles as secretary and treasurer respectively.

In addition, five new members have been added to the executive: Kieran Fitzgerald (Corofin/Galway), Cahir Healy (Portlaoise/Laois), Denis Coughlan (Glen Rovers/Cork), Colm Garvey (Kilmore/Roscommon) and Paraic Fanning (Mount Sion/Waterford).

Briody concluded: “The CPA will continue to lobby the leadership of the GAA in 2020 and beyond for an improved fixture schedule that ensures everyone equally belongs to the GAA.

“We have been suppressed by various people in the GAA over the years in the hope that we would go away. But we are not going away. Logic and reason is on our side and the statements above from our new executive members proves that club players are still not getting fairness.

“We look forward to working with the leadership of the GAA to help get a resolution to this once and for all. We simply cannot enter 2021 without an acceptable games programme and calendar that is acceptable to the playing population. If we do we will compound the problem and do further irreparable damage to the Association.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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