GPA urges GAA to rethink restructuring of football championship

The GPA could be at loggerheads with the GAA over changes to the All-Ireland senior football championship.

At Saturday’s AGM, the inter-county players’ body passed two motions, one calling on the GAA to reconsider their opinion. The proposal read: “Following the endorsement of 31 out of 32 county panels for the GPA’s football championship restructuring proposals, we encourage the GAA to support the introduction of meaningful change to football competition structures, change which will result in greater interest in our games from all concerned but also a more enjoyable playing experience for the county player”.

The news came on the same day it was revealed the GAA have ruled out the GPA’s football championship blueprint, which would incorporate a Champions League-style format after the provincial competitions. Instead, Central Council will vote on one of three proposals which won’t increase the number of games; the GPA’s structure would have incorporated an extra 40 games.

The GPA also anticipates GAA director general Páraic Duffy’s call to abolish the U21 All-Ireland football championship will fail at Congress in February. Their second motion stated: “We specifically encourage the GAA to assess the situation that should a potential motion to Congress to remove the U21 football competition fail, the likelihood of no meaningful change taking place increases and vulnerable players will continue to suffer at this level.”

At the AGM in Athlone, Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey was appointed new GPA new chairman. He succeeds Dónal Óg Cusack who steps down after 13 years to focus on his role with Clare.

Hickey was a member of the GPA’s national executive committee for three years. Dublin footballer Paul Flynn has been appointed as David Collins’ replacement as GPA secretary. Former Kildare midfielder Dermot Earley returned unopposed as president. Cork captain Stephen McDonnell and Waterford defender Noel Connors join them on the GPA executive.

Hickey said: “As a county hurler I realise the ability of the GPA, through the development programme, to make a profound difference to lives of players who need to achieve balance in their lives due to commitments involved in their sport.”

Cusack signed off: “While today is an emotional day for me personally, it is an important day for the GPA as we look to the future and embrace change.”

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