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GPA urge Croker chiefs to scrap provincials for year

Call for open draw to replace traditional football format while 17pc say it's not safe to return to action

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Stock photo: Sportsfile

Stock photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Stock photo: Sportsfile

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has told the GAA that they want all inter-county training sessions prior to September 14 to be covered by the Association's injury fund.

In a letter sent out to players over the weekend, following discussions with the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) on Friday, the players' body has also suggested, based on "broad support" rather than "strong and forthright views" that govern other requests, that if a straight knockout football championship must be played to fit the time schedule of a same-year completion, it should be based on an open draw, not the existing provincial championship draws that CCCC is planning to proceed with.

With a later end to the season for many, the GPA is also calling for 2021 inter-county activity to be delayed with a properly defined closed season.

The requests and suggestions made to CCCC on behalf of players are based on discussions with county representatives and captains and a survey which 1,153 players responded to. The GPA informed members that their negotiations on their behalf were based on three guiding principles - protecting their physical and psychological welfare, promoting fairness and competitive integrity and respect for the level of preparations required for inter-county competitions.

Almost one in five players who responded, 17 per cent, admitted they may not return to activity because it is not safe to do so. The GPA urge that any such decision made by a player should be respected by managers, county boards and supporters.

The call for injury cover for training outside the permitted window, set by the GAA in their recent 'Safe Return to Gaelic Games' document, will be at odds with the GAA's insistence that no inter-county training can commence prior to September 14. But there is broad support for players to be allowed to return once club activity is at an end.

The reality is that almost all inter-county training has returned in recent weeks and, in some cases, managers are advising players that their priority, even through the club window, must be to inter-county team preparations.

Some 76 per cent of players want a same-year end to the competitions, 72 per cent see a defined closed season as being "very important" and 75 per cent want the start of 2021 to be pushed back. 

"The GAA have positioned the inter-county competitions at the latter end of the year to maximise attendances," the GPA letter points out. "They now need to respect the views of inter-county players on these issues and as the high performing unit of our sport, the inter-county game needs to be given the respect it deserves.

"There are compromises outlined that we would not contemplate in a regular year and we cannot guarantee every squad or individual's preferred outcome. However, our goal is to achieve the best possible result for as many of our members as possible, given the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves."

Irish Independent