GPA hits out at claims it was 'too late' in tackling reform plan
The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has defended its preparation for last weekend's Congress vote on football championship reforms, stating that it has fully engaged with its membership in the six months since the GAA's proposals were first unveiled.
A statement issued last night was in response to criticism that the inter-county players' body were too late in making public their stance on the 'super eights'.
The GPA only revealed that 70 per cent of inter-county players were opposed to the reforms on Thursday last. By then a majority of Congress delegates had already been mandated by their county boards.
It has been alleged that the GPA only began consulting its membership at the beginning of February. However, they insisted last night that feedback was first sought in August - just days after the proposals were first publicly aired.
"The GPA has engaged extensively with our members with regard to competition reform over the past 18 months in the form of surveys, squad meetings, regional workshops, the establishment of a steering group of current and former players and through a multitude of communications providing information and seeking input and feedback at various junctures."
They also sought to clarify that there was consultation with GPA squad representatives on the issue last September and in October it was established, through feedback, that a majority of players favoured the GPA's own plan, rejected by Central Council in January last, in preference to the new GAA proposal.
But the GPA did not address in its statement why they didn't convey that opinion at that stage, taking a final check earlier this month before doing so.
The GPA said it accepted the decision of Congress but would continue to consult its membership on what course of action to take next in relation to football and hurling structures.
And there was a mild broadside at the GAA over the rejection of their own proposals more than a year ago.
"Following extensive work in bringing forward a new competitions model, the players' own proposals were dismissed by the GAA partly on the basis that they contained more games."
Meanwhile, Club Players Association (CPA) secretary Declan Brennan has refused to rule out strike action in the pursuit of the body's goal to 'fix the fixtures'.
The CPA was controversially denied speaking time at the GAA's annual Congress and Brennan spoke out yesterday as he responded to developments, failing to rule out the prospect of strike action.
"Everything's an option now," said Brennan. "It (strike) is not a road I want to go down - we want to play more games rather than strike but everything's an option now and everything will be done to get this across the line."
A request from the CPA to air their views at Congress was turned down and Brennan admits that members of the fledgling body have been left "confused" and "frustrated".
He added: "Listen, everybody would be confused and frustrated. There would be an energy level throughout the country and within our own organisation that something wasn't right about what happened on Saturday. Where do we go from here? Everybody's taking a few days to gather their thoughts and we'll have an executive meeting towards the end of the week. This is like being beaten in the first round of the championship - we're going through the back door now and we'll go through whatever door we need to knock down to get something done for our members."
Brennan also slammed the "triumphalist" reaction from some delegates attending Congress when the CPA's bid for official recognition was withdrawn. "Bureaucracy works in different ways and it was well led on Saturday, with key paid officials speaking, one after another. Democracy wasn't in a good place on Saturday."