Club Players Association (CPA) executive member Liam Griffin claims the body was “never welcomed” by the GAA.
Citing the official recognition motion which was withdrawn before being defeated at Congress 2017 and the transparency proposal shot down at the following year’s gathering, hotelier Griffin — an All-Ireland winning hurling manager for Wexford in 1996 — believes there was no interest in the GAA hierarchy to work with the CPA.
“[Take] a guy of 27 when we (CPA) started out first — he’s now 30. He’s in the autumn of his years anyway and we haven’t really addressed the problem because of the structures that we have. We were never welcomed. We didn’t expect a big welcome for the CPA,” he said.
“The approach through (previous GAA president) Aogán Ó Fearghail was to try to just ignore what we were saying on the basis that there’s nothing to be seen here, move on. Now I’m involved with clubs, I’ve been involved with inter-county — there’s lots to be seen here.”
Joan Kehoe, a member of Kilmacud Crokes and global head of alternative investments at JP Morgan, echoed Griffin’s sentiments that the GAA will suffer if apathy regarding fixtures prevails.
“In the absence of leadership, apathy wins all the time. That’s just a fact and what we’ve been looking for is an open debate, transparency, engaging with people to whom this matters the most and it does take a great leader to stand up and say: ‘Let’s have a look at what we’re doing. Does it work? Can it work better?’
“I think that’s what we’ve been looking for.
“We made a very deliberate decision to engage in this process in good faith and I cannot tell you the amount of hours these two guys (Michael Higgins and Micheál Briody) in particular have put into this, and I promise you this executive is not stepping away from this process lightly.”
Kehoe felt compelled to join the CPA leadership because of the difficulties faced by clubs.
“The reason I got involved is that I feel very strongly about the role the GAA has to play in our society. I think, like every sporting organisation, it has a huge role to play.
"I have five kids, they’ve all played and I think it has been hugely beneficial to them. So for me, my interest in getting involved wasn’t really about Dublin, it was about the GAA as a whole.
"So it was very much not a Dublin-centric perspective for me, it was more as a mam and as somebody who has been heavily involved in the GAA for a long time.
“I really felt it’s so important that we don’t neglect our clubs and I genuinely believe, from everyone I hear, from everybody around the country, that that is not the case now. And it’s not good enough for me or anyone else to sit here and say: ‘Well, I’m alright, Jack.’ ”
Griffin expressed a level of despondency at the CPA being forced to leave the fixtures group. “I hope common sense prevails. I really am sad that we’re sitting here, trying to justify ourselves, to be honest, for being even part of this whole movement,” he said.