Cork board backs GPA recognition protocol

THE Cork County Board last night voted overwhelmingly to back the proposed GPA recognition protocol which will be decided upon at February’s Central Council meeting next Saturday.

But there were serious reservations expressed by delegates at the lack of similar assistance being provided to club players by the association.

Cork Central Council delegate Des Cullinane described the recommended five-year agreement as “the best that we could get” and stated that the concerns over club players were a separate issue.

“This will bring finality to the conflict and tension between players and county boards. I think it will be an agreement that both sides can stand over and bring a lot of resolution to issues that are there. On balance, I think it’s the best deal that we’re going to get. Certainly I share the concerns over what is being done for club players, particularly in terms of searching for jobs but in many ways that is a separate issue.”

The financial terms of the agreement came under heavy criticism from Bride Rovers delegate John Arnold who stated it is “very upsetting” that the deal is open-ended and queried as to why the sum of money involved has increased from what was agreed originally in November 2009.

“There’s a general acceptance that there is no point in rewriting the history but people are aghast at the amount of money involved. What surprises me is that since November 2009, the sum has increased by €2.2 million since then. What are we as an association doing for club players?

“The other big problem is it’s creating a huge division as we certainly now have an elitist GAA. The final point is that it is very upsetting that it’s open ended. Overall the sums involved are horrendous when you see the cutbacks involved for club players at present.”

Meanwhile Down secretary Seán Óg McAteer has slammed the proposed GPA recognition protocol as “a done deal” and questioned the validity of voting on it at all.

Like the interim deal done in late 2009, it is widely expected to be passed although several Ulster counties such as Down, Donegal and Tyrone are again voicing their opposition to it.

Down official McAteer has mockingly described the protocol as an “a fait accompli”.

“Our biggest disappointment is that it already seems to be a done deal,” said McAteer. “We would question the need to vote and ask is there any point in it when the agreement already appears to be a fait accompli.”

The Donegal County Board will also be opposing the protocol.

“That would be consistent with the way we voted on the interim agreement,” said county PRO Seamus O’Donnell.

Tyrone secretary Dominic McCaughey commented: “Our Central Council delegate Brendan Harkin has consistently opposed any form of recognising the GPA.”

Antrim, Cavan, Derry and Fermanagh will decide what way they will vote later this week although it is anticipated most if not all four counties will elect to go against it.

However, there were indications Monaghan, who were conferring on the subject at a meeting last night, would be in support of the protocol.

Tipperary, as they did with the interim deal, will back the agreement after some fears at management committee level were allayed.

The GAA-GPA official recognition protocol will see the Association provide the players body with €8.75m over five years, rising in increments of €125,000 per annum, with €1.5m of funding coming this year.

Meanwhile Cork delegates also voted overwhelmingly to retain the inter-provincial championships, an issue which is also to be dealt with at this weekend’s Central Council meeting. St Mary’s delegate John Corcoran urged delegates to keep the competition and believes the GAA would be far better served to focus their attentions on the inter-provincials rather than the Compromise Rules.

“If the proper marketing effort was put in like it was the Compromise rules, then they would be viable. This is a better way to promote our games than the Compromise Rules which is a hybrid game that does not have much future.”

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