Dermot Earley reveals his plans for the GPA

Incoming GPA chief executive Dermot Earley believes the organisation is misunderstood and is determined to rectify the disconnect.
Dermot Earley reveals his plans for the GPA

Earley will take up his new position on February 6 with a handful of clear intentions, one of them to better inform the public of the work the official inter-county players body does for their members.

He acknowledges that the perception of the GPA isn’t as healthy as he would like it to be. “It hasn’t got out to the wider GAA public on exactly what we do. I suppose the challenge for me is to get that message out, while I’ve taken over in my new role, exactly what the services are we provide here for the inter-county player. I think a lot of people actually don’t understand the workings of the internal staff here of the GPA and the benefits of the programmes that we have here, so that’s a big challenge for me.

“But in any dealings with the media, I will get that message out and it’s also something we’ll look to internally about communicating the right message out there to the public, and we’ll look at that inside ourselves.”

Having recently struck new separate funding agreements with the GAA and the Government, Earley admits the GPA now have to articulate how well they are utilising the money. “They (the public) might just see the funding we receive and they’re possibly critical of that without realising where exactly that funding goes.

“If we look at the last deal we had, half of that funding is going right directly back into the players to help them prepare to play inter-county games. The rest of it goes into providing the support services here in order for players to be the best they can be away from the football field, to develop their own personal identity so that when they’re finished playing the game, they have something to fall back on in their own personal and professional lives. I don’t think many people know that.”

Without canvassing opinion, Earley wouldn’t say how the GPA will use their vote when GAA director general Páraic Duffy’s football championship proposals are put to Congress next month. After the GAA saw fit not to include the GPA’s own blueprint for the competition on the Clár last year, he revealed he has some personal reservations about Duffy’s plan in regards to merging county and club fixtures programmes.

He seems certain the backdoor system has reached the end of its lifespan. “I would have liked to have seen the change brought forward structurally in the whole actual initial structure of the championship and I think as well maybe the qualifiers has run its course as well, and when you are playing games week in, week out, you don’t get a chance to play any club games either.

“Our proposal actually did facilitate the club player last year. There were gaps every three weeks to allow club games to happen and that’s not going to occur in this new proposal, so I don’t know, but again we will survey our members and whatever they decide, we’ll bring it to the floor of Congress.”

As good as Earley’s relationship is with Croke Park (he has been the GPA’s Central Council delegate the last three years), he said he won’t be afraid of friction with the GAA. At the weekend, it was revealed the funding/recognition talks between the GAA and GPA broke down last year before an agreement was reached.

Recalling the impasse, he said: “We were quite strong, we were quite adamant in certain areas that we wanted and we were both happy at the end of the day that we received what we were looking for. The details of that are in that agreement. We have a respectful relationship but we don’t always agree and you do need to maintain an edginess at all times. I don’t intend to change that direction.”

Earley found himself agreeing with several of the arguments made by the recently-formed Club Players Association (CPA). “I welcome the formation of the CPA. Club players are very entitled to go out and form their association and they’ve been banging on the door. There is a fixture mess that needs to be addressed.”

The Kildare man confirmed it’s his and the GPA’s intention to continue with attracting funding in the US and the Super 11s concept. On the matter of their annual funding drives Stateside, he said: “Funding at the moment doesn’t allow us to provide for all our members, so that fundraising is very important. From the fundraising in the US, we’ve also developed other programmes — the Madden Leadership programme came from funding in the US and our programme to bring past players back to education came from the US.”

The Super 11s is expected to return to Boston’s Fenway Park this autumn after its debut there in 2015. “When you get 30,000 into Fenway Park, that is a success,” insisted Earley.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.