GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell has called on the GAA to formally recognise his Association in an effort to avoid stand-offs between players and officials.
Farrell’s comments come as the dispute in Cork rumbled on with no sign of resolution. The former Dublin star believes valuable lessons can be learned by all sides in an effort to avoid repeat clashes.
He reasoned: “I think there is an opportunity here for the GAA to formally recognise the GPA and put in structures to avoid these type of situations and so everything is dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.
“Players can come through us, county boards can come through Croke Park and avoid this type of situation.”
Farrell, who has been in contact with GPA members in Cork insists that the players are not on strike — or in breach of the deal brokered earlier this year.
Continued Farrell: “The biggest consideration here is that players haven’t signed contracts. It’s very difficult to implement any sort of agreement as ultimately it is volunteering, done on an amateur ethos. Players are free to come and go as they wish.
“I think this particular squad has made it clear it’s not a strike. Fellas have made their own mind up to walk away that they are no longer prepared to play under that regime. The door is open to any players in that particular squad and in the county to play for Cork. The players won’t be setting up picket lines or anything like that.
“Having spoken to a couple of them now they are hugely frustrated and sick to the teeth of it.”
Farrell, reiterated comments made in yesterday’s Irish Examiner that this dispute is deep rooted and more than a conflict between the players and their manager Gerald McCarthy.
“I think it’s a case of old wounds being reopened. This situation has manifested itself in a couple of ways over the years. Last year it was Teddy Holland, and the time before that in 2002, it was player welfare issues. This time it’s the reappointment of the current management regime. I think you scratch below the surface and you realise it’s a power play that’s at the core of this. You wonder what the County Board’s agenda is and who is driving that. I don’t think it takes rocket science to figure out what’s going on here and who’s genuine about what they are saying.”
He is adamant that players are entitled to a consultative role in selecting a management team.
“They are the ones operating at the coal face. They know what’s going on behind the scenes. They know the dynamics of the relationships. They have considered there are huge issues around that. It’s not a reflection on players or management. Sometimes it’s not a good fit. Sometimes there’s a difference, a gap that can’t be bridged. I think everyone should take stock of that. It’s sad to see personalities come into it. If at all possible that should be avoided. But in certain situations it’s not possible to do that. It’s easy to consult with players, but are you taking on their opinion in a genuine way is the question.
“(The players’) thoughts on the situation were completely disregarded. You have to question what’s going on. Ultimately the player’s judgement is being called into question.”
Farrell also questioned the roles that clubs — and their County Board delegates — played in this latest impasse.
“The question I pose is what are the clubs saying and doing in all this. There are issues around leadership and how the leadership of the county board have handled this particular situation. Ultimately that’s the responsibility of clubs and club delegates, who should be demanded by the clubs. The clubs are the oversight body in all this. It raises serious questions. I think it should exercise clubs in Cork because it is a very divisive issue and clubs need to get on top of it and not just club delegates, I’m talking Chairman, secretary and club members because it poses a real threat to Cork hurling. Club delegates overwhelmingly endorsed the position of Teddy Holland and the next time round it was completely overturned so that doesn’t hold any great sway.”
Meanwhile Farrell confirmed the footballers have been in contact with their hurling counterparts but “they are not involved in it to date.”
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