CPA asks members if they want 'escalation'
Survey to establish reaction of club players to ‘free’ April
The Club Players Association (CPA) has asked its members if they want an "escalation" in action to pursue the association's aims.
The CPA, which was launched at the beginning of 2017, has repeatedly stuck by the mantra that they want to "fix the fixtures".
However, as the GAA leaves April free from inter-county activity - with the exception of the delayed Kilkenny-Tipperary Allianz Hurling League final which was played two weeks later than scheduled because of adverse weather - to afford more time for clubs to have access to their county players, the CPA has distributed a survey to its 25,000-strong membership asking them a series of relevant questions.
- "Are you happy with organisation of club fixtures in your county?"
- "Has the entire month of April been successfully set aside for club activity in your county?"
- "Have you received a master fixture plan with specified dates of all games for the remainder of 2018?"
- "Would you like to see designated periods for club, inter-county college so that there is no overlap?"
- "The CPA has tested the systems of GAA democracy over the last 18 months, culminating with our transparency motion at Congress. Are you satisfied with the continuation of this process, or is it time to escalate the situation and go a different route?"
The last question stops short of suggesting strike action to the membership but it is clearly designed to get an indication of the depth of disgruntlement that club players may be feeling, to what direction the CPA may lead them and if some form of protest is viable.
However, that will depend on the outcome of the survey, with counties having different levels of access to their players depending on how early their Championship campaign starts and their perceived level of difficulty.
Dublin football, for instance, has given clubs full access to their players throughout the month.
But then Dublin don't start their campaign until the weekend of May 26/27 against Offaly or Wicklow and followed a similar path after last year's League final, with a lengthy pause from collective training.
In contrast, Galway and Mayo are back training ahead of their crucial May 13 Connacht quarter-final clash.
Galway have not fixed a club championship match in the six-week lead-in to the game, while Cavan and Donegal have a similarly important preliminary-round game in Ballybofey on the same date.
The CPA has floated the idea of strike action or some form of protest in the past.
Even before their January 2017 launch, a document circulated to potential members containing "Frequently Asked Questions" didn't hide that prospect.
The response to the question as to whether the CPA will be asking clubs to strike was that "the CPA wants players to play but will not rule out any tactic that may advance the overall objective".
Something similar was floated in another survey prior to last year's Special Congress that brought in a raft of changes to condense the inter-county season, including shoot-out provision for 'same-day' results to further guard against replays, the prohibition of challenge games unless they are fixed for Monday to Wednesday once the league has ended and, of course, the reform of provincial hurling Championships.
On that occasion, the CPA decided on a path of engagement that led to a direct meeting with members of the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC).
From that meeting, a number of CPA-originated motions were filtered through county conventions but only two made Congress and were both defeated.
The CPA is scheduled to have a first meeting with the new Director General Tom Ryan next week.
CPA chairman Micheal Briody has consistently said that an April free of inter-county fixtures is weakened without central legislation preventing counties from staging training sessions for a period of time.
However, he has also acknowledged that some counties, especially those fixed for May 6 and May 13 fixtures, have more urgent needs to convene training.
The results of the CPA's survey will be distributed early next week.