EMBARGOED UNTIL Tuesday 00.01am 16th June 2020  

The GAA must protect the time they have allocated to club games in 2020 by applying rules and sanctions, if they are not to cause damage to the future of the Association.

That is the firm message from the CPA as counties formulate their return to play competition structures for the 2020 season. The CPA believes that the GAA must clearly demonstrate parity of esteem across all its members at this most difficult crossroads.

With the allocation of an eleven week club window, the CPA is adamant that this time is given to over clubs to enable meaningful competitive games for players despite the truncated season.

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 under way, however we have a number of concerns we are asking GAA leadership to address.”

To provide clarity to the GAA membership the CPA are asking:

1          What are the leadership going to do to ensure all counties optimally use the 11 weeks allocated to run their championships? Already we have seen different counties proposing blitz competitions to get club competitions out of the way so their intercounty teams can resume training as early as possible. Is this not a once in a lifetime opportunity for the leadership of the GAA to enforce fairness on each county so a level playing field is achieved?

2          What are the leadership going to do to ensure intercounty players are not asked or coerced into training with the intercounty team before they finish their club championships? In some counties, intercounty managers have very strong influence over the fixtures scheduling. We call on Croke Park through the powers vested in The Management Committee at a Special Congress held on April 17th 2020, to use those powers to take a stand once and for all on this and rule with appropriate sanction

Executive member Liam Griffin said “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. We attach the text of some quotes from the Association’s 2015 annual report by Paraic Duffy. 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.”

 

CLUB PLAYERS ASSOCIATION AGM

The Club Players Association recently held its AGM by videoconference, reaffirming its continuing campaign to Fix the Fixtures. The AGM took place remotely on account of Covid19 restrictions. Chairman Micheál Briody was re-elected to serve for a further year, with Tommie Kenoy replacing Michael Higgins as secretary and Joan Kehoe taking over from Anthony Moyles as Treasurer.

Micheál Briody thanked Michael Higgins and Anthony Moyles for their contributions over the past three and a half years. “Michael represented the CPA with passion on the Fixtures Task Force in 2019, and his excellent contributions were motivated entirely by support for the plight of club players. Anthony has also been involved since the outset and has represented the CPA numerous times in the media and will continue to do so in the future on an occasional basis.”

“We welcome Tommie and Joan to their respective new positions on the executive and we are fortunate to be able to avail of their unique expertise and experience. We also welcome five new members to the executive to help us to contribute to the debate and represent clubs players going forward. Those five new members are Kieran Fitzgerald from Corofin club in Galway, Cahir Healy from Portlaoise club in Laois, Denis Coughlan from the Glen Rovers club in Cork, Colm Garvey from the Kilmore club in Roscommon and Paraic Fanning from the Mount Sion club in Waterford. All new members together with the existing members of the executive bring a huge amount of passion, experience and love of club football and hurling to the CPA table.”

Laois dual star Cahir Healy said “Regarding my own reasons for joining, I am concerned about the unfair situation of my friends who just play club. My own personal reason for having a passion to change things stems from my non-involvement with my club over my years as a county player. I am a county panel member at the moment and a GPA member, I am proud to play for Laois but I still don’t feel county players should be strangers in their own clubs which I feel is what is happening all over the country. The clubs games and county games are all part of our one association, we must find a way that they both thrive together and not be in conflict with each other which is what is clearly happening”

 

Kieran Fitzgerald said “I have followed the Club Players’ Association with keen interest over the years in the hope of obtaining a better playing calendar for the club player.  From playing club football for the last 20 plus years, I have seen and heard on a weekly basis the continued frustrations of my fellow players regarding the uncertainty of fixtures and the lack of a formal consistent playing calendar.  I have seen at first hand the unnecessary sacrifices players have had to make and the pressures players have been put under just to play the game they love because of lack of consideration and foresight by leadership of the GAA. The club game is the heartbeat of the GAA but due to neglect and disregard, it is slowly dying on its feet.  I am delighted to join the national executive of CPA and I am looking forward to assisting in getting a positive outcome in this regard for club players across the country”.

 

Paraic Fanning stated “I have lived a life surrounded by Gaelic Games and the GAA. The memories I have of growing up as a kid playing the games, longing to represent my club and county have been an integral part of my life. The role my club and the GAA played in shaping me and making me cannot be understated and I recall with great fondness the summer evenings going training and club championship on the horizon. That has now changed for the current club player. I have witnessed the continuing disregard and indifference the leadership have shown to the club game and I fear for the future of it. I want my kids and their kids to have an understanding of the GAA and what it really is all about, its commitment to its core values and its communities. I want them to enjoy the attachment to the club game that I felt and lived. We need a united and thriving GAA Community with a well-structured fixtures calendar.  It can be fixed but will require bravery and leadership and I know that the sole focus of the CPA is on this matter and there has to be people pushing the club agenda at a national level or we will look back in years to come and only talk of how good the GAA used to be and not how good it is now.”

 

Cork dual legend Denis Coughlan added “This is the best committee I’ve ever been on. For the only time I remember all members want the same thing.  The good of the Club & for the future of our games and the Association. 98% of our players are being totally disrespected by Croke Park, county boards and managers. Everything I have heard since joining the committee has been practical and conciliatory rather than radical to bring about a fair system for all our clubs & players.

Kilmore player Colm Garvey said “We need a national fixtures calendar that treats clubs and counties fairly, ensuring specific dates are ring fenced for clubs to have meaningful games (league and championship) throughout the summer with county players available for selection, and this can only be achieved by a cohesive national plan”.

Briody added “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”

Executive Members of the CPA

  • Micheál Briody, St Brigid’s, Co Meath (Chairman)
  • Tommie Kenoy, Kilmore, Co Roscommon (Secretary)
  • Joan Kehoe, Kilmacud Crokes, Co Dublin (Treasurer)
  • Liam Griffin, St Mary’s Rosslare, Co Wexford
  • Greg Devlin, Emyvale, Co Monaghan
  • Paul Kelly, Clann Na Gael, Co Armagh
  • Joe Passmore, Eoghan Rua, Co Derry
  • John Hanniffy, Portlaoise, Co Laois
  • Denis Coughlan, Glen Rovers, Co Cork
  • Kieran Fitzgerald, Corofin, Co Galway
  • Colm Garvey, Kilmore, Co Roscommon
  • Paraic Fanning, Mount Sion, Co Waterford
  • Cahir Healy, Portlaoise, Co Laois

 

ENDS

For further information:

Greg Devlin: 086 2086934