The ‘whipping boys’ of the GAA have got their say
The ‘whipping boys’ of the GAA have got their say as the CPA was launched at the Ballyboden St Enda’s clubhouse on Monday.
Presented by chairman Michael Briody and secretary Declan Brennan, a former Monaghan selector, the main aim of the association is to be the voice for the club player and to drastically re-shape the fixtures schedule to suit the majority of the playing population.
Speaking at the launch Mr Briody said: “The single biggest issue concerning GAA players is fixtures. Players want to play games.
“They don’t want endless training sessions and 13-month seasons. Players feel they are last in line after administrators, CCC members, coaches, paid managers have all had their say.
“This is fundamentally a player welfare issue and together the time has come to address it before we do irreparable damage.
“Since the idea of the CPA was first floated in the Autumn we have been inundated with emails and calls from club players expressing their frustration at the way in which our fixtures are managed. As an Association if we have to slaughter a few sacred cows along the way, then so be it.
“The underlying principal of our Association is the emotional and physical well being of our players. They deserve the opportunity to train and play meaningful games, in a balanced fixture programme. Our main focus is to fix the fixtures.”
Prior to the launch the CPA uploaded a statement on their social media feeds to try to relate to club players across the country to sign up.
Players can do so for free now at www.gaaclubplayers.com, but as of yet there is no provision for players whose county is outside of Ireland.
The CPA hope that if they get enough recognition then they will be able to be formally recognised, like the GPA, at Congress and go on to obtain voting rights. Wexford have put in a motion for next month’s Congress to officially recognise the CPA as the representative body for the club player.
“It will place the club player at the heart of the decision-making process,” says Mr Brennan. The online statement read: “I am the GAA club player. I am the bottom of the food chain. I am the fella who must organise his whole life around the fixtures of an Inter County team I will never play for.
“I am constantly patted on the head by the authorities and the media but nobody really wants to do anything to improve my situation. I am the lifeblood of the association, so they say. Most of the time I feel like the whipping boy.
“I am the man who must tell the people at work that I am not sure when I want to take my summer holidays. It could be June, July or August. But I don’t know until they are almost upon us.
“I am the man constantly telling his wife to rearrange the plans for the weekend away. What else am I supposed to do? I don’t have a clue from week to week when our next match is. She knew that when we got married.
“I am the man who doesn’t know how many matches I will get to play in any calendar year. In the next few weeks I will head back out to training with the club. The nights will be gloomy, often wet and there’ll be evenings I wished there was heat coming off the floodlights around the field.
“I am the man who sits outside in the back garden on a fine Summer’s evening and wishes we could play matches in that kind of weather. Last year, I counted a dozen beautiful dry nights when we neither had training nor a game at the height of the season.
“I am the man who once watched 112 days between championship matches and then expected to play twice in six days. Where else would you get it? What other sporting body would tolerate a situation in which 99 per cent of the adult playing population must sit around twiddling their thumbs or playing challenge matches and waiting to get on a field for a game where something is at stake? Then getting told to go out and do it three or four weekends in a row.
“I am the man who watches his Inter County team play with mixed feelings. I want them to win because some of my club mates are involved but I know if they lose I will get to play. It’s the GAA club player’s strange dilemma.”