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Dublin: 19 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020

'Utterly wrong’ - call for player insurance if GAA county training takes place before September start date

The Gaelic Players Association have again called for players knocked out early from club championships to be allowed return to county training.

GPA chairperson Seamus Hickey pictured speaking at the GAA Congress.
GPA chairperson Seamus Hickey pictured speaking at the GAA Congress.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

THE GAELIC PLAYERS Association have reiterated their call for the GAA to allow players to return to county training once their involvement in club championship is over.

In a statement released this evening, they also said it is up to county boards police the training ban in their respective counties.

While the players’ body state that county training should not take place before 14 September they insist that the GAA Injury Benefit Scheme should still apply if sessions are organised.

“As things stand and for complete clarity, the roadmap clearly highlights that there should be no collective inter-county training prior to 14 September,” it read.

“However, it would be highly negligent of us, and utterly wrong, as the body charged with looking after inter-county player welfare, not to seek to have any such training covered by the GAA Injury Benefit Scheme, should these sessions be sanctioned by their respective counties. 

“It is the role of each county board to ensure that these training sessions are not sanctioned prior to the agreed dates.

“However, the GPA believes that common sense should prevail, allowing players to return to inter-county training once their involvement in club championship action is complete. 

“We presented this viewpoint to the Covid-19 Advisory Committee and the GAA’s Central Competition’s Control Committee (Friday, 19 June) and it is something that we will continue to work towards.”

The statement also bemoaned the club versus county debate which has reared its head in recent weeks.

“The last week has seen significant progress being made towards the return of our games across the country.  It is hugely positive to see pitches open again and teams getting back together. 

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“However, that air of optimism has been eroded somewhat by the ‘club v county’ narrative that has developed.  This is very unfortunate, given a few short weeks ago we had the very real possibility that we would not see any action in 2020.

It continued, “2020 is a year that requires compromise and collaboration to complete what has been a very difficult year for all. Longer term, our strategy to achieve club and county balance requires structural changes that we have been working diligently on with the GAA via the Fixtures Task Force.

“It should be noted that in the midst of the negative discourse surrounding ‘club v county’, inter-county players are incredibly proud and passionate to represent their communities; as a player it has always been club and county, not club v county.    

“The health of the inter-county game remains a vital component of the GAA’s success.  It is vital in terms of showcasing our games and in providing an arena for the sports’ highest performers. 

“It is also essential in terms of the unifying effect it has on clubs and communities and the sense of pride in place if offers.  It is loved by GAA fans up and down the country and further afield and needs to be respected.  

“Covid-19 still presents a risk to our society, community and games. We must be united in our approach to addressing this challenge.” 

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Kevin O'Brien

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