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GPA aim to roll out 'confidential disclosure platform' to report counties breaking training bans

CEO Paul Flynn also addressed questions surrounding the image of the players' body amongst the wider GAA community

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Gaelic Players Association chief executive Paul Flynn. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Gaelic Players Association chief executive Paul Flynn. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Gaelic Players Association chief executive Paul Flynn. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) will look to develop a confidential disclosure platform aimed at making it easier for its members to report counties who are not adhering to training moratoriums.

That is one of three motions - which are expected to be passed - that will go before the players' body AGM this evening.

"Players are crying out for an off season, that’s one fact,” GPA CEO Paul Flynn said in a media briefing for his body's 2019 report.

"And it gives them an opportunity to report if there is non-compliance with the off-season window. It’s one of the key strategic initiatives from my perspective is to deliver on an off-season for inter-county players.

"It goes back to the idea of sustainable amateurism and back to the foundation of what we should aim to achieve in the GPA, to bring that balance in the players’ personal, professional and physical life. And this is a core element of it. We’ll have to roll it out and monitor the usage of it."

The move comes in the wake of reports from around the country that some counties have been training well in advance of the September 14 date.

In a recent missive, the GPA called for the club window to be respected but still wanted any county training sessionto be covered by the GAA's insurance.

The GPA also pointed out that their ESRI report showed that 40pc of inter-county players reported having no off-season while 67pc said they would be in favour of stronger adherence to no inter-county training before December 1.

At tonight's AGM, which will be held remotely, the GPA will also ask its members to support the idea of establishing a group to explore what is the optimal time to spend on training in a week.

"One of the motions we are bringing is the idea of optimal contact hours," said Flynn.

"And again the idea is something that is used in other sports and in sports science to identify what is the ideal or optimal time required for high performing athletes to be able to deliver on their chosen sports.

"And with the contact hour model we believe that using sports science and using information like we have from the ESRI report and using our own intel as well, we believe we can identify what best practice is.

"I often give the example that, in all my years playing under Jim Gavin, I believe we trained less than every other county in the country.

"That was always my belief when I spoke to other players and learned about what they were doing I always felt we were doing less and it was because we were training smart.

"And I think if we can adopt a smart training model across the country we can definitely reduce the 31 hours while still allowing the game to naturally grow and evolve."

The final motion will seek approval a plan to lobby the GAA and Sport Ireland for an update to the anti-doping education process. As it stands, players are only required to complete the training by March 31, but the GPA want to make it mandatory to have itfinished by the end of January each year.

Flynn also addressed questions surrounding the image of the GPA amongst the wider GAA community.

"I still don’t believe that people understand what our three pillars are of player representation, player welfare and player development," he said, when it was put to him that the GPA had a 'negative' image.

"And a good example of that is recently in relation to sanctions around non-compliance with windows.

"We aren't in the sanctions game, our role is under the three Ps. Yes, we have a voice but I do feel there’s a misinterpretation about all the elements of what we do and that’s why we try to take you (the media) through our annual report, that’s why we're keen for you to understand because you all can be a vehicle for us to assist others to understand what exactly it is that the GPA is here to do."

1,448 players had engaged with GPA services in 2019, a 31pc jump on 2018 figures.

Online Editors