GAA Football

Club Players' Association hits back at Down County Board official's claim

 Down County Board secretary Sean Og McAteer believes there is no need for the Club Players’ Association
Neil Loughran

THE Club Players’ Association (CPA) has hit back at claims from a high-ranking county board official that there was no need for the newly-formed body.

In his address to the Down County Convention last night, Sean Og McAteer said the CPA - which will be officially launched on January 9 - had come about “because of a perceived neglect of the club player within counties” before adding that “we do not need another body, the Gaelic Athletic Association is one body and one people”.

“This might be one of those uncomfortable conversations that have to take place within counties to ensure that the club player gets regular games and that he knows when he is playing and that he knows the game will take place,” continued McAteer.

“That to me is achievable without the founding of another association within the association. That just needs goodwill and communication and commitment from all sides.”

Responding with a statement on their Facebook page, the CPA cited the case of Down champions Kilcoo as an example of why a separate club players’ association is required.

They opted out of the Down league final at the start of November when the Magpies’ clash with local rivals Castlewellan was scheduled for the days after their Ulster Club SFC quarter-final win over Glenswilly, while the club’s U21 side was also due to play at the same time.

Castlewellan were awarded the league title, although Kilcoo have since taken up the issue with the Ulster Council and are awaiting a response from the GAA’s Dispute Resolutions Authority after the clubs failed to reach an agreement.

On the back of the controversy, Kilcoo submitted a motion to the Down County Convention last night calling for the league to be finished before the championship reaches the semi-final stage.

In their statement, the CRA hit back at McAteer’s claim, and said fixture pile-ups such as that which faced Kilcoo have led to club players saying “enough is enough”.

“Interesting to see the Down County Convention report,” it read.

“We as group would never have thought of coming together only that the current system has total disregard for club players. Now club players will have a voice that won't be ignored.

"The Down County Board showed little regard for the players of Kilcoo, their own county champions, or indeed the prestige of their own league competition when they fixed the league final for November 3 in the week of an Ulster Club Championship match.

“Séan Óg McAteer is of course correct, goodwill and commitment would have avoided that situation and would have allowed the Down champions to prepare properly to represent their county.

"The absence of goodwill, common sense and a reasonable concern for the players led to Kilcoo withdrawing on grounds of player welfare.

“It is situations like this that have [led to] club players saying enough is enough."

Following a meeting in Croke Park last month former Monaghan coach Declan Brennan, one of the driving forces behind the formation of the CPA, outlined the key areas he hopes to deal with regarding the issues that affect club players.

Top of the list is finding a resolution to the fixture congestion that currently blights the GAA calendar.

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