GPA services are ‘changing lives’, says Dublin star Paul Flynn

GPA secretary Paul Flynn hit back at Colm O’Rourke for comments about the players body’s mental health campaign.

In his Sunday Independent column last weekend, O’Rourke queried why the GPA were involved in such issues.

“There is a danger every bit of difficulty in a person’s life will be blamed on some type of addiction, depression or other type of mental issue which needs a guru to sort out,” he wrote.

“The statistics are available and it is plain that there is a small percentage of cases which need serious professional intervention. There are also a lot more of the ‘get over it’ type which every young person must deal with.”

Outside of fixtures and burnout, O’Rourke said the GPA’s modus operandi was “all bullshit”.

As someone who lost a friend to suicide, Dublin forward Flynn took exception to those comments:

“Some of the services are not bullshit. They might be in his eyes. Like, toughen up... that’s an awful thing to say. Mental illness is so prominent in society today. You can have as many organisations as you want out there working on it as we have. I don’t know how many, there’s so many yet it’s still so prominent among males. The GPA is made up of all male members so that’s a great platform for services to be able to come in and to help.”

Describing O’Rourke’s remarks about the GPA as “a bit unfair”, the Dublin forward maintains the organisation are transforming players’ lives for the better.

“In society there are services provided for people, whether it’s with regards to suicide, to addiction and things like that. They might be there but people mightn’t use them or get exposure to them. The GPA, what they’re doing is very good in my eyes. It’s breaking down the stigma for people to use them and it’s making it very accessible for the players.

“I’ve lost a friend to suicide so I know what that’s like first hand. If those services save one life then they’re worthwhile, end of story. I got involved in the GPA is because I want to see more of that. They’ve changed many players’ lives with regards scholarships and stuff like that.”

Flynn acknowledges people are anticipating the GPA’s next move after the GAA’s decision to dismiss their All-Ireland football championship structure proposal, which was backed by all but one county panel.

He believes he and his fellow members have been rejected by process.

“For the inter-county players who are rolled out every summer to create revenue for the GAA and create a stir around the games, they put forward what they felt could be a good option and it’s not listened to. This is disappointing.”

Flynn added: “(A), it’s disappointing the three new proposals are very conservative. (B), the GPA put forward a proposal voted in by 31 of the 32 counties and I don’t even think it got a hearing with Central Council so it’s not going to go to Congress. I don’t think there is anybody out there who disagrees change is required. I don’t think everybody agrees on what the system should be but the changes they looked for are not changes, just the same thing practically with one or two alterations.”


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