Tipperary and Wexford’s motion to officially recognise the Club Players Association (CPA) was withdrawn after a call to do so by former GAA president Nickey Brennan, writes John Fogarty.
Sensing the proposal would be defeated, Brennan argued that Congress should avoid sending out the wrong signal to club players and asked the counties to remove the motion pending a consultation period involving the GAA and CPA.
Sligo, Galway and Down had spoken against the motion prior to Brennan’s intervention. Tipperary, who had not spoken on their recommendation only to propose it, had initially elected not to withdraw it but did so when Wexford confirmed they would be happy to park it. Tipperary’s decision was followed by a round of applause seemingly out of relief that a resolution, temporarily at least, had been found.
Following the backing of the “Super 8” All-Ireland senior football championship earlier in the day, it marked another setback for the newly-formed club players organisation. The CPA are unlikely to officially respond to today’s decision under next week. However, after the “Super 8” vote, CPA secretary Declan Brennan encouraged club players to sign up to the CPA.
He tweeted: “Play your part, Register your support for change as this is far from over only confirms the disconnect from top to bottom.”
Speaking to Newstalk earlier, GAA director general Páraic Duffy felt that the voice of club players had been heard with the motion as well as the All-Ireland finals being moved to August and extra-time applying to all inter-county championships bar provincial and All-Ireland deciders. "I think the voice of club players has been heard today in the motions that were passed. There’s no doubt about that. The motions in relation to extra-time, the Christy Ring winner (competing in the) All-Ireland championship. They were for club players. I think it’s very clear that the club players were heard.”
Wicklow manager Johnny Magee called on players to withdraw services in the wake of the “Super 8” decision, which will introduce All-Ireland round-robin groups instead of quarter-finals from next year on a three-season trial.
He tweeted: “Total disrespect®ard 4 club&county players opinion.There is NO game without players! #ALL OUTSTRIKE club&county.” Several county and ex-county players also took to the social media platform to express their disappointment at the vote.
It was also agreed by Congress that the majority required to pass a motion be reduced from two-thirds (66.66%) to three-fifths (60%) following a successful motion put forward by Down, Longford and Westmeath.
Galway, meanwhile, agreed to withdraw their motion for their minor and U21 hurling teams to join the Leinster championships after assurances were given by Croke Park to establish a workgroup to recommends changes to the competitions.
Following a lengthy debate, an attempt to allow 16-year-olds to be permitted to play adult level for their clubs was defeated, 59% of delegates opposing it.
In his address to Congress, GAA president Aogán Farrell again clarified his comments in November about the GAA’s relationship with the national anthem and flag. He also reiterated the organisation’s backing for a united Ireland. “Our basic aim as an Association is embodied in Rule 1.2 of our official guide which states our aim as the ‘strengthening the National Identity in a 32 county Ireland’. That aim remains and all of us in the GAA aspire to a 32 county Ireland united by agreement of the people.
“For many in the six counties during more challenging recent times involvement in the GAA and with our games brought cohesion and identity. While our past is important to us, the GAA has not been found wanting when it comes to helping in the shaping of modern Ireland.
“With this in mind I was disappointed about how some comments I made in Dubai in November last were presented in some sections of the media. Anyone who read what I actually said, as opposed to some of the headlines or soundbites, know that my comments re-affirmed the special place we reserve for both the national flag and Amhrán na bhFiann. The flag and anthem are a precious part of our heritage and will remain so. Together they provide us with a tangible demonstration of our ideals and visions.”