'Inter-county game is not the GAA's problem child' insists GPA in wake of annual report

GPA chief executive Paul Flynn, pictured at the launch of their Student Report 2019, has hit back at comments made by GAA director general Tom Ryan

THE Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) tonight hit back at GAA director general Tom Ryan, insisting the inter-county was not the association’s "problem child". 

At the launch of the GAA's annual report yesterday, Ryan described the soaring cost of inter-county teams' preparations as "unsustainable" and added that Croke Park are looking at ways to address the issue.

According to the GAA's financial report for 2019, those costs rose by 12 per cent between 2018 and 2019, currently standing at €30 million.

The GPA has released a statement in response to his comments, saying it was "disappointing" that "so-called unsustainable costs" of inter-county games were dominating the GAA's attention. 

"It is disappointing for our members, that the inter-county game to which they dedicate 31 hours of their time each week, as they proudly represent their counties, is once again being presented as the GAA's problem child," said CEO Paul Flynn.

"Far from being a problem child, inter-county games, and the players that make them the spectacle that they are, continue to be the jewel in the crown of the GAA.

“Therefore, in the midst of the record-breaking revenues of €73.9 million reported for 2019 (up 16 per cent), which are primarily and overwhelmingly generated off the inter-county games, it is disappointing to see that it is the so-called unsustainable costs of those inter-county games commanding such a share of the GAA’s attention."

The former Dublin star went on to claim that the inter-county game was “the revenue generating machine that allows the GAA to compete with rugby, soccer and other sports for hearts and minds of the Irish public”. 

He continued: "Our inter-county games are the flagship promotional and developmental tool that keeps the GAA in the news and journalists, pundits, administrators, coaches, physios and all the other professionals working within the inter-county games in jobs. 

"We have seen this ploy of painting inter-county games in a negative light used consistently to keep players down, to make them feel like they are lucky to be involved in the games. 

"Make no mistake, the players, past and present, are proud to represent their counties at the highest level but the GAA is also lucky to have those players who give so much of themselves, often to their own detriment, to allow it generate the revenues that keeps the association afloat.   

"Inter-county fixtures generate a total economic impact of €390 million annually, supporting 3,600 jobs and directly contributing over €40 million to the exchequer. This at a time when many of our players can barely make ends meet and in many cases cannot.

"It is our view that the role of inter county games and our players to the overall health of the GAA, as evidenced in the annual report, needed to be acknowledged. We hope all inter-county players, past and present, are proud of their role in driving the success of the GAA and that all aspiring young players are motivated to play their role in continuing this legacy."

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