CPA abandons protest plans amid cooling of tensions with GAA
THE Club Players’ Association has abandoned plans to protest at this weekend’s Special Congress following assurances that the GAA will produce a master fixtures plan by the end of October.
Tensions between the two organisations had been increasing in recent months, with the CPA unhappy at a perceived lack of action regarding club fixtures on the agenda for the Special Congress.
They had canvassed members on potentially holding a protest at Croke Park and 95 per cent of respondents voted in favour, but CPA chairman Michéal Briody and treasurer Anthony Moyles subsequently met with Páraic Duffy and Fergal McGill last Friday.
A commitment was made at the meeting by the GAA to publish a national fixtures plan by the end of next month, which is in the process of development and will be finalised after the outcome of the proposals on reform of the hurling championship is known.
The CPA has also been offered a meeting with the Central Competitions Control Committee, which oversees the planning of inter-county fixtures.
April also looks set to become a month effectively free of inter-county games in 2018. The National League final next year will take place on Sunday, April 1 and there will be no further inter-county games until at least the beginning of May.
CPA chairman Briody feels that the latest developments represent progress on their hopes but says that there will be plenty still to be looked at ahead of next year’s Annual Congress.
“What we wanted was a national fixtures plan and they’ve come back saying that they one that they will finalise after Congress is over, depending on what happens with the hurling.
“They’re fully confident there will be more for clubs in that than there’s ever been before. They’ve taken a lot of things into account that we’ve put forward, such as the month of April, and they’re going to try and do their best to put that in, and they’re confident that they will.”
At a press conference in July, the CPA revealed that they wanted April to become a month free of any inter-county activity, including training sessions.
While Briody admits that the options on the table are unlikely to extend that far at present, but that they are happy to meet the GAA in the middle for now.
“I don’t think it will be to the extent that we’d want it but you have to look at it as progress that the whole month of April is freed up for club games.
“It may not be to the extent that there’d be no inter-county training but as we understand, there won’t be any inter-county matches.
“It’s some form of progress. We still think there’s more to go. We haven’t seen the finalised master fixtures plan and in fairness, we’ll let them put it together and comment on it thereafter.
“We’re happy enough that they’re taking into account a lot of what we’re saying – not everything, but we don’t want to be the purveyors that it has to be our plan and only our plan.
“If we see bits of it being incorporated, we’d consider that progress.”
Briody also called for county boards to be held to account for situations such as the recent events in Antrim, where dual players in Ahoghill had to play a hurling championship game and a crunch football relegation match within 24 hours.
A similar situation unfolded in Wicklow at the weekend, where Greystones were forced to play championship games in either code on consecutive days.
"Why is that county board not accountable to Croke Park for such a flagrant abuse of player welfare? For a county that is out of the championship in hurling and football for so long to let it come to this is the reason the CPA was formed.
"Croke Park, as well as county boards, have to take responsibility for this. How can we let this happen, and continue to happen?"