Ronan McNamee: GPA didn’t explain proposals properly

Tyrone full-back Ronan McNamee says the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) should have given inter-county players better information about the ‘Super 8’ proposals ahead of Saturday’s GAA congress.

The GPA last week came out against the restructuring of the All-Ireland SFC, which will now feature two groups of four at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage from 2018, claiming 70% of their membership had voted against the changes.

McNamee believes the body which represents the GAA’s elite players should have initiated more debate and discussion amongst players on such an important issue.

“I think they could have explained it all a lot better to the players,” he said. “I got an email and a text about it, but the stuff they sent out about the proposals was like reading an essay or a dissertation. If you couldn’t be bothered reading it or didn’t have time to read it, then you’d be left knowing very little about it.”

McNamee, speaking at an Allianz League launch in Garvaghey yesterday, said he didn’t vote, feeling he wasn’t well enough informed on the pros and cons of such a huge change to the All-Ireland senior football championship. He insists he would have attended a meeting if the GPA had organised a meeting at any stage during the six months since the proposals were first floated last August.

“Even if they had kept one person from each county informed on what was going on, but instead there was very little talk about it until the last couple of days, which was probably too late.”

Now that the football landscape has been changed, the defender has given it a tentative thumbs up and thinks most players from the top counties will be in favour.

“It’s a big step but it will be exciting to be part of something new. I’m sure anyone from a big county would agree with it. On paper, it looks like it would favour the stronger teams but you never know, there could be a curveball and some of the smaller counties might benefit.

“The likes of Clare and Fermanagh got to the All-Ireland quarter-finals in the last few years and Tipperary to the semi-finals, and now they’d have three big games instead of maybe just one. I know I’d have taken a second go at Mayo last summer.”

The UUJ student also revealed the unnamed Tyrone player’s statement which slammed the county board and chairwoman Róisín Jordan last week over cost-cutting measures, was a fair reflection of the views of the Red Hand players. The statement accused Jordan of asking every player to cough up £15 (€17.50) towards sports equipment, explaining: “it’s not about £15 (€17.50), it’s about month after month of cut after cut.”

McNamee revealed: “It wasn’t a million miles off the mark, definitely not”.

It’s understood the Tyrone players have had problems being reimbursed for mileage expenses. “It’s hard to know how to talk about it, but nobody in the dressing room would disagree with the (player) statement,” he added.

“There are underlying issues and so on that need to be ironed out.”

McNamee was disappointed Sunday’s Allianz League Division One match against Cavan at Healy Park wasn’t called off earlier. “There was no Plan B or back-up plan. We were well set up and prepared to play but we didn’t get final confirmation it was off until half past one, when it could have been moved elsewhere.”

The GAA have confirmed the re-fixture for Sunday, March 12.

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