The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has once again failed to pass judgment on the county teams who are breaching the GAA’s inter-county training ban.
The latest statement from the players’ body, released early yesterday evening, said it is the responsibility of each county board to ensure their county teams do not recommence collective training before the September 14 date set down by Croke Park.
The statement, however, makes no reference to whether or not the GPA condemns or approves of the county teams who are flouting the inter-county training ban.
Laois hurling manager Eddie Brennan, Offaly county board chairman Michael Duignan, and former Clare boss Tony Considine are among those who have been critical of the GPA’s silent stance on the open secret that is the total lack of adherence to the September 14 date by a cohort of county managers.
What the GPA did call for in yesterday’s statement was for insurance cover to be extended to inter-county training sessions that should not be happening in the first instance.
Cover provided by the GAA’s player injury scheme is exclusive to club teams at the moment and won’t extend to county panel get-togethers until mid-September.
The players’ body also want players to be allowed to train with their county once their involvement in the club championship is at an end.
With Croke Park having removed themselves from the conversation concerning unauthorised inter-county training by stating that they will not be imposing penalties on any county team which trains collectively before September 14, the GPA laid responsibility for policing inter-county activity at the doorstep of county boards.
“The last week has seen significant progress being made towards the return of our games across the country,” the GPA stated.
“It is hugely positive to see pitches open again and teams getting back together.
“However, that air of optimism has been eroded somewhat by the ‘club v county’ narrative that has developed.
“This is very unfortunate, given a few short weeks ago we had the very real possibility that we would not see any action in 2020.
“2020 is a year that requires compromise and collaboration to complete what has been a very difficult year for all.
“As things stand and for complete clarity, the roadmap clearly highlights that there should be no collective inter-county training prior to September 14.
“However, it would be highly negligent of us, and utterly wrong, as the body charged with looking after inter-county player welfare, not to seek to have any such training covered by the GAA Injury Benefit Scheme, should these sessions be sanctioned by their respective counties.”
The statement continued: “It is the role of each county board to ensure that these training sessions are not sanctioned prior to the agreed dates.
“However, the GPA believes that common sense should prevail, allowing players to return to inter-county training once their involvement in club championship action is complete.
“We presented this viewpoint to the Covid-19 Advisory Committee and the GAA’s Central Competition’s Control Committee (Friday, June 19), and it is something that we will continue to work towards.
“It should be noted that in the midst of the negative discourse surrounding ‘club v county’, inter-county players are incredibly proud and passionate to represent their communities; as a player, it has always been club and county, not club v county.”
The GPA also remarked that the inter-county game is “essential” in the unifying effect it has on clubs and communities, and needs to be “respected”.