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Players launch drinks deal in Croke Park box

THE rebel players group, the GPA, will launch their biggest ever commercial venture in their four-year history from the comfort of a Croke Park corporate box!

Box 686 will play host to a promotional deal between ten of the GAA's top stars and drinks firm Cantrell and Cochrane this morning.

The launch may bring Tyrone's Peter Canavan and Kerry's Seamus Moynihan together in advance of their mouth-watering duel in Sunday's Bank of Ireland All-Ireland semi-final as both are among the group of 10 linking up with the drinks firm.

Among the other stars who will be involved in the package with C & C, will be hurlers DJ Carey, Tommy Dunne and Dublin's Conal Keaney and footballers Sean Óg de Paor, Paul McGrane and Jason Sherlock.

The promotional deal will initially take the form of a billboard advertisement campaign, but is expected to evolve into something a lot bigger.

How the GPA managed to swing a corporate box for one of their most exciting launches is something of a coup for the organisation.

"They may not have realised it was us until it was too late," revealed Farrell yesterday.

Farrell said that the C & C launch this morning was only a small part of what was to come.

"We're planning something much bigger and more extensive in the next few weeks," he promised.

The launch comes just days after a leading sports management consultant, Fintan Drury, criticised Farrell and the GPA for not being commercially active enough for GAA stars.

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All the players involved in the billboard campaign are reputed to be earning ?2,250 each.

Meanwhile, Carey has urged the GAA to "clarify" their position on what players can endorse in the wake of the controversial Paddy Power logo deal last week.

The record All-Star winner believes the presence of logos on the hurls of three players in the drawn All-Ireland hurling semi-final between Cork and Wexford was legitimate.

"It mentions everything in the rulebook from jerseys to socks, but doesn't specify hurleys or helmets," he said.

"Players would like clarity on this. They would like a clearer and fairer picture on what they can endorse. It's more than a little difficult to understand how ?350,000 can be accepted for a corporate box on one hand, yet when another hand reaches out for ?750 from the same company it gets slapped," said Carey.

"We keep hearing that the welfare of players is a priority, but it sounds like lip-service to me after last week.

"I know there are very good county and national sponsors to protect, but a logo on a hurl is hardly as visible as one across a shirt," argued Carey.

"The GAA have let the players down commercially over the last few years. There was a company hired to attract commercial opportunities around the time the GPA was set up but those opportunities have rarely materialised," he said.

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