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GPA tell county boards clubs should come first

Flynn's note lays out 'clear and unambiguous' return date, but public statement insists players must be insured to train with their counties before then

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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 September 14 return date for collective inter-county training is "clear and unambiguous" and there should be no return ahead of that unless a player's club commitments have been completed.

That was the message from the Gaelic Players Association chief executive Paul Flynn in a note to county board chairs around the country yesterday. Flynn acknowledges that the fixtures programme "will see a degree of overlap between both club and inter-county activity, potentially leading to unnecessary frustration for those impacted" but adds that "in what are exceptional circumstances, the GAA Roadmap for Return to Play, in the main, provides clarity and definitive windows to facilitate both club and inter-county fixtures."

That message was more clear-cut on inter-county training than a public statement the Association also issued yesterday, renewing its call for the injury benefit scheme to be restored for inter-county sessions that take place prior to September 14.

Striking a somewhat contradictory tone, it also stated that it is the responsibility of county boards not to sanction sessions prior to September 14 but if they did sanction them they should be covered, though it adds that "for complete clarity" there should be "no collective inter-county training prior to September 14".

"It would be highly negligent of us, and utterly wrong, as the body charged with looking after inter-county player welfare, not to seek to have any such training covered by the GAA Injury Benefit Scheme, should these sessions be sanctioned by their respective counties. It is the role of each county board to ensure that these training sessions are not sanctioned prior to the agreed dates."

The contradiction is that no such sessions can be sanctioned by a county board, even though the GAA has said no penalties will apply for those counties that continue to act in defiance of the roadmap and its September 14 inter-county training date.

In the note to the chairs, however, there is no mention of sanctioned training sessions or concerns over the absence of the Injury Benefit Scheme for inter-county sessions that may be taking place. The GPA says it issued the public statement because of the "sustained negative discourse surrounding inter-county players".

That "discourse" has been triggered by the insistence of a few inter-county teams who continue to train into July, denying their clubs access to players, even though the league doesn't resume for some three-and-a-half months.

Meanwhile, Wexford's hurling final has been confirmed for Sunday, August 23 with the football decider taking place on September 26/27.

The first three rounds of the Wexford hurling championship will take place over the last two weekends of July and first weekend of August, potentially leaving some players with no dual interests out of competitive championship action at that stage.

Wexford have, however, introduced a quarter-final which will be played on the weekend of August 8/9.

Irish Independent