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CPA hit out at 'unfair' suspension of club fixtures and call on GAA to reverse decision

The club players’ body is pleading with the GAA to allow outstanding adult championships to be completed behind closed doors.

THE CLUB PLAYERS’ Association [CPA] has hit out at the “extremely unfair” decision by the GAA to suspend all club fixtures until further notice, and pleaded for outstanding adult championships to be completed behind closed doors. 

crosserlough-players-celebrate-with-the-trophy Crosserlough celebrating their Cavan SFC win at the weekend, Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

On Monday, the GAA announced that the decision — to be implemented immediately — had been taken following “a number of incidents” in relation to post-match celebrations and “a lack of social distancing” at recent games.

At the time, NPHET had made the recommendation to impose Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions across the country, though the Government opted for Level 3 on Monday night instead.

This means that inter-county action will go ahead as planned for now, albeit behind closed doors.

But club GAA has been put on ice, with a number of counties yet to finish their club hurling and football championship campaigns, meaning their competitions could go unfinished in 2020.

Training can continue — which which may contribute to further transmission and risk and increases costs and demands, according to the CPA.

In a lengthy statement, the club players’ body acknowledged GAA management “taking responsibility and showing leadership” and stressed it does not condone “some of the behaviour [that] has rightly attracted scrutiny in light of the pandemic we are all living through”.

The CPA then pleaded with the GAA management committee to allow outstanding adult championships to be completed behind closed doors, adding that cancelling club games is “unfair on players”.

“We have been contacted by a lot of clubs over the last 24/48 hours, distressed and disappointed that their season has been brought to an abrupt and unsatisfactory end,” CPA chairman Micheál Briody said.

“They all understand the need to tighten restrictions, but are appealing to have the chance to finish out their campaign.”

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micheal-briody CPA chairman Michéal Briody. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The full statement from the CPA is as follows:

In making this appeal, the Club Players’ Association fully acknowledges that GAA management is taking responsibility and showing leadership once again to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

“Club players and supporters across all counties greatly appreciated the 11 weeks ring-fenced for Clubs. With uninterrupted access to players, the interest and excitement generated at Club Level was a tremendous showcase for our games and surpassed all expectations.

“The GAA leadership centrally, at provincial level and in some counties have attracted unfair criticism. This criticism has been for situations where they have little control over an individual’s behaviour, and where Association guidelines have been ignored or flouted. We all understand the euphoria of championship success, but some of the behaviour has rightly attracted scrutiny in light of the pandemic we are all living through. We do not condone this at all.

“At this time, in light of the GAA directive on Monday 5 October, we are pleading with the GAA management committee to allow outstanding adult championships to be completed behind closed doors. We would highlight the following points in making this request:

  • The number of club players who are only a few days away from completing their season is minimal.
  • It is extremely unfair that they should be left hanging for the next number of months not knowing when their finals will be played.
  • According to guidelines they can and most likely will continue to train until their games are played, which may contribute to further transmission and risk.
  • The extra costs of training over the coming months will put further financial pressure on these clubs who have been unable to raise funds in 2020 like other years.
  • Finishing the competitions will allow all clubs to have full closure on this season, and give players and mentors an uninterrupted break with their families at this difficult time.

The response to and engagement with club games has been a real positive for the GAA in 2020. It is important that it is recognised for players and their communities who are at final stages of their championships.

We would re-emphasise that we agree that the lack of social distancing in some stands is totally unsatisfactory and the after-match behaviour in a few clubs has been disappointing, to say the least. 

However we feel that cancelling club games is unfair on players who through no fault of their own are being denied the chance to finish what has been a unique and challenging season.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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