GPA seeks rethink as winter ban is flouted
The Gaelic Players' Association has called for a review of the GAA's controversial winter training ban.
In the wake of last week's revelations that Cavan senior footballers trained at Breffni Park last Sunday, the Sunday Independent has established that at least 13 other counties are in breach of the rule.
And although the GPA supports the principle of a closed season, the players' body believes the GAA needs to adopt a more flexible approach.
"We have started the process and we will be expressing our views to relevant authorities after Christmas," said GPA spokesperson Seán Potts. "It's something we have already put on the record. One set closed season doesn't fit all."
County boards, which are responsible for ensuring that the GAA's rules are upheld, have been ignoring the ban on collective training and challenge matches during November and December.
One county team, featuring many of its 2010 panel, played a challenge match last week against a third-level institution which is preparing for next year's Sigerson Cup. This is not permitted under the rule. Other counties have also arranged to play challenge matches against university teams with their under 21 panels. Again, this is not permitted.
The GAA's operations manager, Fergal McGill said the Association is keen for people to come forward and report breaches. "We are waiting for people to tell us and we will follow up on any information we are given," he said.
The GPA believes the closed season should be reviewed and suggest that a more flexible two-month rest period be considered. "We discussed the closed season at our convention in November but we couldn't format a motion at the time because there were a lot of mixed views," said Potts.
"But we believe that deep down every player we have spoken to thinks that there should be a closed season."
The GPA believes counties should be allowed implement a two-month moratorium that suits their own needs and circumstances. If a team gets knocked out early in the season, then their training ban could be introduced straight away.
"It's hard to counter the line that it's a cost-saving exercise when teams have been off for months and months and then all of a sudden they are not allowed train when the season is looming. If burnout is that big of a concern then why are 19- or 20-year-olds, through January, February and March, playing for five or six teams and being pulled all over the place?
"Also, from a health and safety perspective, what about fellas who have never played inter-county and might be asked to play a game in January without having any collective senior training. They are being thrown into the deep end without the necessary experience."
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