Wednesday 20 September 2017

Earley insists that 'edginess' to GAA/GPA relationship must remain

Gaelic Games

New GPA chief executive Dermot Earley. Photo: Sportsfile
New GPA chief executive Dermot Earley. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) will need to maintain an "edge" to their relationship with the GAA, new chief executive Dermot Earley has admitted.

The former Kildare footballer will take leave of absence from the Defence Forces to succeed Dessie Farrell who stepped down after more than 14 years in the position.

Farrell led the organisation through turbulent times but the signing of two agreements with the GAA has paved the way for better relations.

Earley says the relationship under his stewardship can't be as cosy as many expect because of his family and diplomatic background. Having some friction will, he insists, be "important."

"We have a respectful relationship but we don't always agree and you do need to maintain an edginess at all times. I don't intend to change that direction," he said.

He admitted that when talks with the GAA broke down while negotiating their latest agreement "we were quite strong, we were quite adamant in certain areas that we wanted."

Earley will undertake a review of how the GPA are perceived during his first few months in the role by speaking to all key stakeholders.

He acknowledged the GPA had to transmit their message in a different way and that would be a challenge for him. "We'll look internally about communicating the right message out there to the public," he said.

The recently-formed Club Players Association (CPA) is also a welcome development, he added. "Club players are very entitled to go out and form their association and they've been banging on the door. There is a fixture mess that needs to be addressed and this is another voice at that table.

"In any sport, you have to strive to be the best you can be within that sport and there has to be an elite level in that sport. That's who we represent, we represent our county players."

Earley is keen to explore football championship reform and sees that as a priority under his stewardship.

Irish Independent

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