Wednesday 13 December 2017

From 1999 to 2016 - How the GPA has evolved

Donal Og Cusack
Donal Og Cusack

Michael Verney

1999: With the backing of a number of high-profile inter-county players, including Brian Whelahan and Peter Canavan, giving it their backing, the Gaelic Players Association is formed by players in The Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast with follow-up meetings in Dublin.

2000: Campaigning begins to improve conditions for county players and the inaugural GPA AGM takes place in Killarney marking the first formal gathering of county players. Committee and officers are elected with Dessie Farrell becoming the first chairman.

Annual GPA Player of Year Awards are established while the GPA strikes the first major sponsorship deal for a group of individual players which defies GAA ruling forbidding players from engaging in commercial activity.

2002: GAA changes rules on restricting players from engaging in commercial activity with the value of GAA player endorsements in market place increased through advocacy and mobilisation of players collective image rights. Farrell is appointed as the GPA's first full-time employee.

2003: Introduction of formal 'Player Entitlements' saw continued improvements in conditions; mileage rates, gear provisions, meals, injury provision etc.

Three-year sponsorship deal of the Players Awards by SEAT sees the hurler and footballer of the year presented with a new car each. Pioneering sponsorship deal struck with C&C securing long-term future of GPA.

Dónal Óg Cusack is appointed chairman of the GPA.

2005: First formal meeting with GAA president Seán Kelly and director-general Liam Mulvihill takes place.

2006: First Annual GPA Players' Team Awards are established with sponsorship from Opel.

2007: Following lengthy campaign and protest action including strike ballot, agreement is reached with the government to introduce State funding for players which represents a milestone in recognition of the contribution of inter-county players.

2008: Government grants scheme is administered to every GPA member and first payments are made and 56 third-level students receive GPA scholarship.

2010: In a historic move, the GPA is formally recognised as official representative body with a one-year deal put in place. The GPA is formally enshrined in the GAA rulebook at 2010 Congress. The role of the county player within the GAA is formally recognised for the first time with specific reference to their contribution to the commercial success of the GAA.

The GPA launches the Player Development Programme to assist players with life off the field, providing support services for players in education, career development, personal coaching and health and well-being. A dispute resolution mechanism is introduced for the first time.

2011: The first commercial joint venture between the GPA and GAA takes place as the All-Star awards and Players Awards are merged under the sponsorship of Opel.

2012: The GPA successfully hosts its first ever New York dinner gala celebrating and acknowledging the deep historical and cultural ties between the two countries of which Gaelic sporting heritage is an intrinsic part.

2013: Super 11s Hurling, a project developed by GPA to promote games and players at iconic sporting venues abroad, is played at University of Notre Dame as part of College Football Game Day.

2014: GPA publishes Gambling: A Guide for County Players and Our Games with Armagh's Oisín McConville and Offaly's Niall McNamee vocal in its establishment.

2015: Women's Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) launched with support and funding from the GPA and Galway's Aoife Lane is its first chairperson.

Super 11s Hurling between Dublin and Galway staged in front of almost 30,000 spectators in Boston's Fenway Park but some ugly skirmishes mar the occasion while Limerick's Seamus Hickey replaces Cusack as chairman.

2016: New agreement valued at €6.2 million per year agreed with the GAA to run from 2017-2019 which includes increased mileage rates for inter-county players, nutrition allowances and €800,000 to help with Player Services. GPA announce €6.9million deal in partnership with the government to tackle mental health problems, obesity, and drug/alcohol misuse.

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