GAA Football

GAA President "ignoring will of 20,000 players" says CPA chief Briody

Club Players Association chairman Micheál Briody (right) has hit out at GAA president Aogan Ó Fearghail and director-general Páraic Duffy

CLUB Players’ Association chairman Micheál Briody has accused GAA President Aogan Ó Fearghail of “ignoring the will of more than 20,000 club players” and pleaded with Congress to "stand up for the grassroots of the GAA".

In a hard-hitting statement, Briody also revealed that the CPA’s request to be granted speaking rights at this weekend’s Congress in Croke Park was rejected by Ó Fearghail, and hit out at the GAA and RTÉ’s “blatant promotion” for Duffy’s proposals for Championship reform.

Once more reiterating a plea to have the proposals to introduce a round-robin quarter-final system, which at present look set to be voted through at Congress, the CPA chairman called for counties to reverse their thinking.

Appealing directly to delegates, who at present look poised to vote in favour of the proposal, Briody reiterated the CPA’s plea to have the proposals parked to allow ‘real and meaningful consultation’.

“With a registered membership of over 20,000 Club Players throughout Ireland, we are pleading with Congress to stand up for the grassroots of the GAA and to reject this proposal in favour of a real and meaningful consultation with all stakeholders.

“We need meaningful change to ease the difficulties encountered by county boards and the uncertainty felt by all players.

"We have called the GAA to take on board other stakeholders' views. They agree with us on that, as they say they are canvassing county boards for their fixtures issues. Surely common sense must prevail here? It’s about what’s right, not who is right.”

The Meath man warned of the financial implications for counties of backing the motion, which will be put forward alongside motions to end replays and bring the All-Ireland finals forward by three weeks.

A report in a national newspaper last week revealed that six counties had spent more than €1m on their county teams in 2016, with Mayo topping the charts having spent €1.6m last year.

“Ahead of this weekend's GAA Congress we are pleading with our county representatives to consider carefully the implications of the Championship proposals.

“They are already groaning under the financial weight of running county teams. Over €23million at least was spent nationally last year.

“The proposed Super 8 idea adds more time, more costs and doesn’t help solve the issues of club fixtures.”

Briody also labelled the GAA’s promotion of the proposals as ‘aggressive and single-minded’.

Páraic Duffy appeared on RTÉ’s League Sunday programme to promote the proposals on Sunday, while fellow Monaghan man Dick Clerkin also spoke in their favour.

Among those to speak against the motions in Sunday’s programme were former Donegal stalwart Martin McHugh, but Briody labelled the coverage as having “blatantly promoted one side”.

“Once again we ask, why can these proposals that have been promoted so aggressively and single-mindedly by the GAA not be parked, so that we can get the right solution in place for our players?” questioned Briody.

“On Sunday night players watched as The Sunday Game [sic] blatantly promoted one side of the problem. The fact that RTÉ are a sponsor of the Championship and therefore had a conflicted interest wasn’t lost on our members as RTÉ licence payers.

‘We can’t understand this reluctance to consider every alternative. This problem won't fix itself.

"Our agenda is simple, and it's not about financial demands, or commercial endorsements, or putting in requests for equipment or nutrition to county boards as has been suggested. It is about players playing games. That is what the GAA was established to do. That’s what players want to do,” said Briody.

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