Sport GAA

Sunday 13 October 2019

Farrell's diplomatic skills were vital for the GPA

Dessie Farrell, CEO, Gaelic Players Association. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Dessie Farrell, CEO, Gaelic Players Association. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Only time will tell the precise impact Dessie Farrell had on the GAA but it's safe to assume that his input as head of the GPA will be regarded as one of the most important developments in the Association since the turn of the Millennium.

Who would have envisaged some years ago that not only would the GPA become a strong, vibrant organisation but that it would also be accepted as permanent part of the GAA structure by the Croke Park authorities?

It wasn't an easy transition from a group initially viewed with a deep sense of mistrust by the GAA powers to the streamlined operation the GPA has now become.

Whether it wields too much power and influence remains a moot point but, undoubtedly, it has forged an identity that ensures it will remain a permanent part of the GAA landscape.

Farrell played a huge role in that evolution and will now be sorely missed by the GPA.

Even in the more turbulent days when the GPA and GAA had regular spats, Farrell always came across as a voice of reason. But then the former Dublin football captain is the quintessential GAA man, driven by the most solid instincts and ideals.

Unquestionably, there was a need for representative body at a time when many of the GAA's top powers appeared to be of the view that players should play and leave administration to others.

It made for an uneasy relationship between the GAA bosses and the fledgling GPA, which at times bordered on open hostility.

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It's all very different now with both sides being far more tolerant of each other. Farrell's role in charting that welcome course should never be underestimated.

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