Monday 23 July 2018

First GPA motion seeks better Ring, Rackard, Meagher stage

GPA interim chief executive Séamus Hickey. Photo: Sportsfile
GPA interim chief executive Séamus Hickey. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) will break new ground when they table a motion to Congress for the first time tomorrow.

The players' body will use the power granted to them at last year's Congress, which came as a consequence of the GAA/GPA Recognition Protocol signed at the end of 2016, to try and increase the profile of Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cup matches.

Now that all three competitions have been realigned under the new calendar to track the Liam MacCarthy and Joe McDonagh (new tier-two competition) Cups the GPA believes there is a promotional opportunity for the tier three, four and five competitions.

In recent years the finals of all three competitions have been played on the first Saturday afternoon in June in Croke Park.

The GPA motion is focusing on the potential for a better stage for the semi-finals of the three competitions.

But to achieve that the right to home advantage for the group winners must be set aside so that semi-finals can be played at neutral venues.

"The motivation for this came when the GPA commissioned Donal O'Grady (former Cork and Limerick hurling manager) to do a study in 2015 on the three hurling competitions and to investigate their health and recommend what could be improved," said Seamus Hickey, the GPA's interim chief executive since Dermot Earley's surprise departure last month.

"One of the strongest elements of the feedback was that the competitions were excellent and enjoyed by all but the profile was a big factor. It's the same across the board, all teams want to play on the big stage.

"This motion requires the group winners to cede home advantage for a neutral venue in that case. That's what requires rule change."

It's a tentative first legislative step at Congress for the GPA who will be represented by Hickey, and former Galway dual player Alan Kerins.

Hickey acknowledged that even if their motion is passed it will take a lot of work to get Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cup semi-finals on the same programme as a Munster or Leinster hurling final, which is their aim.

Traditionally minor (now U-17) games have been used as curtain-raisers in provinces.

"This would require change and it would require sides to come together on it. The indications are that it's possible but there is work to be done. It (U-17) still has a very prominent place in both provincial competitions."

Hickey said the GPA would support the three finals remaining together in Croke Park because they have been successful in the past.

"The motivation is to bring more exposure to more games and semi-finals would extend that to six games that could receive that exposure.

"Instead of the competition being run off in a condensed nature and being over before the summer got into its stride that there would be a chance to dovetail it with the other competitions that are ongoing and to get the rewards they (players) feel their effort requires."

The GPA will also be supporting the motion prohibiting a county or club accepting sponsorship from a betting company.

"With the work we have done with our own members and the work we have done with Government we see it as a positive step but it's part of a larger body of work that is required on gambling at a societal level," Hickey added.

As the GPA seek a new chief executive the position of chief operations officer, which has also been vacant, has been filled on an interim basis by former Glanbia executive Tom Dillon.

Irish Independent

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