The Club Players Association’s request to speak before their official recognition vote at Congress this Saturday has been turned down by GAA president Aogán Farrell.

As CPA chairman Micheál Briody revealed to the Irish Examiner last week, they wrote to Farrell asking that they be allowed to address delegates before the motion is down for decision. The GAA’s Official Guide empowers Farrell to permit non-delegates to speak at Congress.

However, Farrell has declined their application on the basis that it would be improper for them to speak prior to the ballot.

Reacting to Farrell’s decision in a statement, Briody said: “We wrote to the President as required under rule 3.35 to formally request the right to speak at Congress on behalf of over 20,000 members. He has replied denying us the opportunity to speak stating it would be inappropriate.

“The Uachtarán in doing this has ignored the will of more than 20,000 CPA players. This was not unexpected, it is disappointing, but it doesn’t change our single-minded approach in representing all our members. This isn’t about granting us speaking access. It’s about fixing fixtures.”

Briody appealed to counties to “reject” the “Super 8” proposal for the All-Ireland senior football championship “in favour of a real and meaningful consultation with all stakeholders”.

He continued: “Ahead of this weekend’s GAA Congress we are pleading with our county representatives to consider carefully the implications of the Championship proposals. They are already groaning under the financial weight of running county teams. Over €23 million at least was spent nationally last year. The proposed Super 8 idea adds more time, more costs and doesn’t help solve the issues of club fixtures.”

Briody also criticised RTÉ’s preview of the championship format vote on League Sunday last weekend. “On Sunday night players watched as the Sunday Game (sic) blatantly promoted one side of the problem. The fact that RTÉ are a sponsor of the Championship and therefore had a conflicted interest wasn’t lost on our members as RTÉ licence payers. We can’t understand this reluctance to consider every alternative. This problem won’t fix itself.

“Our agenda is simple, and it’s not about financial demands, or commercial endorsements, or putting in requests for equipment or nutrition to county boards as has been suggested. It is about players playing games. That is what the GAA was established to do. That’s what players want to do.”

Remarkably, Tipperary last night decided to back the “Super 8” proposals despite their football fraternity earlier declaring their opposition to them. Senior football manager Liam Kearns confirmed he, the players and the Tipperary Football Board were against the introduction of round-robin series replacing the All-Ireland quarter-finals. “We don’t believe that it is going to benefit us or the likes of counties like us. It would put massive pressure on our resources. That’s the reality of it and it would give the weaker counties no chance,” Kearns told the Tipperary Star.

“I believe that it is going to favour the strong counties and I believe that only the panels with the greatest depth will be able to cope with the amount of games that are involved. It is totally and completely, in my opinion, biased towards the top teams in the country.

“It’s very simple — if you lose a championship match and go into the qualifiers you are going to have to play four or five games in about six or seven weeks and then when you get to the quarter-finals you will then have to play three of the strongest teams for three weeks in-a-row.”

Under the new system, Kearns believes the chances of Tipperary replicating last year’s All-Ireland semi-final appearance would be zero. “It makes it an absolute impossibility. It favours the teams with the most depth — Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and all the teams that are up there at that level. It does not favour or it does not give any chance to the teams below that.

“You saw what we did last year: we got to an All-Ireland semi-final playing the same 15 players over the course of the competition. That is unheard of and it would be very difficult to repeat again.

“The bottom line to me is that it’s about money and elitism. It’s about getting the eight strongest panels playing each other in Croke Park. It really does make it an impossible task for the teams below the top seven or eight teams.”


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