GPA chief Dermot Earley sees red over U-turn on extra games

Gaelic Players Association (GPA) chief executive Dermot Earley has expressed annoyance at how the GAA have performed a u-turn by supporting the addition of more games to the senior All-Ireland championships.

GPA chief Dermot Earley sees red over U-turn on extra games

At the launch of the body’s new three-year strategic plan which clashed with a press event involving an official GAA sponsor, Earley confirmed he will attempt to persuade Central Council on Saturday to postpone a vote on the new hurling championship proposals.

He feels not enough time has been given to consider them.

The irony of the GAA recommending more games in the All-Ireland SHC as they did with the Super 8 format set to be introduced next season when an increase in the number of fixtures was one of the primary reasons the GPA’s own football blueprint was shot down last year is not lost on Earley.

“Absolutely. I brought that point to Páraic Duffy. I said that ‘our proposal was rejected before it even got to Central Council on the basis it has extra games. Now your new proposal has extra games.’

“That’s obviously annoying but for us it goes back to the first part of our strategic themes. Over the next three years, ‘Super 8s’ are in.

“We have to accept that and we accept the mechanism of Congress within the GPA, but we can still work on developing something to improve that and to improve on everything.

“As regards to both competitions - as regards to third level - don’t forget the Ring, Rackard and Meagher, which are very important competitions.

“We have time but we want to get it right. We have a competitions reform structures committee that will look at that and we will put something together hopefully to the floor of Congress by 2020.”

The GPA are set to meet the GAA this morning where Earley will express his concerns there hasn’t been enough time to debate the new hurling structure before he raises the subject again with Central Council in Croke Park at the weekend.

The official players’ body has set today as the deadline for feedback from hurling panels on the idea of the knock-out nature of the provincial championships being replaced by a round robin format.

“If we don’t have the feedback on time then I’ll be asking Central Council to postpone this and leave it until the next Central Council meeting. The talk is a Special Congress will be called in November. I think the next Central Council meeting is in August and another couple of months is not going to kill anybody and that allows for any issues or adjustments possibly that will improve on this that can be brought forward and we can make sure that whatever goes to the floor of Congress is the best possible solution at this particular time.”

Earley continued: “I’ve said this already to Páraic Duffy and I have no qualms about making that public - that it is not enough time for us to properly consult.

“We will get the information back in, but there is no point rushing this. Why not leave it for another two months and then have a look at the adjustments and then we can make an informed decision before this goes to the floor or a Special Congress.”

On being unveiled as new GPA chief in January, Earley said he hoped to improve the public image of the organisation. He admits that remains a task as he travels the country addressing county boards. “From all of them, a lot of the challenge for me is getting that message out because a lot of them don’t know what we do.

“And they don’t, I suppose, fully understand it, and I think that’s why this (strategic plan) document is so important. I’ve sent it to every single county board, I’ve sent it to every single county manager, and I’ll also give it out at Central Council for all the delegates there. It actually specifies the services we provide and why we exist.

“I think with a greater understanding there would be a greater acceptance of the GPA.”

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