'There's one big misconception out there that the GPA is out of control'

GPA CEO insists they are not trying to implement professionalism in the GAA.

GPA CHIEF EXECUTIVE Paul Flynn has dismissed the suggestion that the organisation is “out of control”, and insists they are not trying to implement professionalism in the GAA.

upmc-gaagpa-launch Flynn rejects the criticism of the GPA. Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

The GPA was criticised recently over the staging of the Super 11s hurling classic in New York, which featured all four teams who contested the 2019 All-Ireland SHC semi-finals.

GAA analyst Colm O’Rourke slammed the validity of the competition in his Sunday Independent column over the weekend, calling it a “GPA-organised junket”. He also questioned why it was staged abroad in an American city.

When asked about the negative commentary surrounding the GPA and claims that the group is out of control, Flynn responded:

“There has been a lot of criticism. I’m very open to criticism. My issues lie when there’s inaccuracies in the things that are said. When there’s subjectivity. I like to deal more with facts and evidence. 

“There’s one big misconception out there with the players is that we’re out of control and are trying to drive this to professionalism.

When I finish up in this job, the biggest thing for me is changing the culture around how inter-county players deal with their career and realise that they’re not paid and that they’re not professionals.

“I would love to see a time where inter-county players have to retire because their job has got too demanding. That’s ultimately what I would see as a success.

That’s not professionalism, that’s purely their professions.”

During Flynn’s briefing with the press in Croke Park, it was put to him that events like the Super 11s don’t contribute to the development of hurling in Ireland, particularly in the weaker counties.

He was also asked why teams in the Joe McDonagh Cup have not yet been considered to be invited to participate.

laois-celebrate-after-the-game Flynn was asked why Joe McDonagh Cup teams haven't been invited to play in the Super 11s yet. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Commenting on the value of initiatives like the Super 11s in America, Flynn said the money raised from those projects are put towards assisting the WGPA as well as organising educational courses for younger players and supporting retired players.

“We need to develop the game here and we need to look at how we can look at short-form versions of our games to grow internationally,” he explained.

I’d argue it’s probably one of the best field games in the whole world. Why save it to our tiny little island on the edge of another island?”

“I would argue the GPA has done more to promote the game at lower-tier hurling than anybody else. Whether it be launches of all the lower-tier competitions, whether it be lobbying the GAA to ensure the games are shown on TV or a screen.

People give criticism about why we go over to the US. We support the WGPA. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t fundraise over in the US. The money we get from the GAA is restricted to the men’s game.

“I don’t think people can argue with that. We’re able to put in additional programmes for players who retire from the game – guys who give everything to the jersey and are forgotten about when they retire.”

Earlier this month, the Club Players Association decided to withdraw from the GAA’s Fixture Calendar Review Task Force. The move came just a few days before the group was due to submit its recommendations to GAA hierarchy in an effort to revamp the fixtures calendar. 

The CPA released a statement at the time, in which they labelled the recommendations as a “compromised document”.

“I know they’re not happy with one of the recommendations and neither are we, which is the ‘as is’ enhanced model,” said Flynn when asked for a comment on the CPA’s decision to leave.

What they’ve done by leaving is really shine a spotlight on this group. It’s going to be very difficult for administrators to go with the ‘as is’ when they can see that the club players don’t want it and the county players don’t want it. Yet they could do it, but they’ve done that before.

“They’ve gone against the players time and time again. The CPA and the GPA don’t fully agree on all the aspects of what we’re looking for and what they’re looking for.

“But we agree on a lot; the restructuring of the championship and there are two options we’d be advocating strongly for and we’ll let the players decide which one. That’s where we believe change should be and not just settling for conservative ‘as is’ model.”

Paul Flynn was speaking at the announcement of UPMC as Official Healthcare Partner to the GAA/GPA. UPMC will work with the GAA/GPA to promote the health of Gaelic Players and the communities in which they play.

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