GAA Football

GAA fixtures Task Force is a Trojan Horse claims disgruntled Club Players' Association

Attendees, from left, Joan Kehoe, CPA Executive member, Michael Higgins, CPA Secretary, Michéal Briody, CPA Chairman, and Liam Griffin, CPA Executive member, during the Club Players' Association Press Conference at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Andy Watters

AGAINST a chaotic backdrop of 2019 league fixtures still being played in Tyrone and reports that Ulster clubs are struggling to get U21 matches played because of clashes with college games, the Club Players’ Association (CPA) has withdrawn from the GAA’s Calendar Review Task Force.

Describing the John Horan-appointed group as “a Trojan Horse”, CPA chairman Micheál Briody claimed his organisation could not “in good conscience” support the report which the Task Force will put before GAA Central Council on Saturday.

“We are bitterly disappointed and frustrated that this is an opportunity missed,” explained Briody in a hard-hitting statement issued yesterday.

“The GAA membership faces the real prospect of proposals coming forward to Congress that fall short of expectations and do not address the concerns of players and their teams as expressed in our core objectives.”

The CPA core objectives are:

To establish a national games programme with a regular playing season for clubs.

To curb the pervasive influence of the county scene on the fixtures calendar of club players.

To set out fixtures for clubs in a definitive manner rather than the current situation whereby club games are vying for space in the calendar alongside National League and Championship fixtures at inter-county level.

Briody insinuated that, far from being the catalyst for change, the Task Force was in fact a cynically assembled talking shop designed ultimately to perpetuate the status quo.

“Our contention is that the Task Force is a Trojan Horse, designed to give cover to the GAA authorities to ratify the status quo while having the appearance of consultation and thoughtful deliberation,” claimed Briody.

“In reality, it will simply be a ratification process for the newly-introduced Tier Two football championship and retention of the Super 8s. Proposals that stand the best chance of getting through the decision making process at Congress, are not the same thing as the best proposals for the future of the GAA.”

Briody explained that the CPA had tabled “concrete fixture plans” at the start of the Task Force process which they had joined after one-on-one discussion with GAA President Horan late last year.

The plans “were not entertained” despite Briody’s assertion that they were superior to anything else being discussed.

“We hoped at least one would be adopted into the final report but when we asked for a vote on November 6 to measure support, we were refused,” he said.

“This is not a matter of sour grapes but illustrates in our view a reluctance to take on board differing views. Our mantra has been ‘it is not who is right but what is right for the Association’.

“We have handed out a significant trail of recent documentation so that the membership of the GAA can make up their own minds on the authenticity of the Task Force.”

The CPA has lamented what it perceives as the GAA’s drift from “a community-based” organisation and points to a “growing disconnect between the leadership of the GAA and their grassroots members”.

“We felt it was the best option for our membership to reveal the efforts that we made and explain the intricate workings of the Task Force,” the CPA statement continued.

“The membership has been inundated with rhetoric in 2019 of ‘Where We All Belong’ at the same time as our Association is fast becoming an organization who no longer prioritises the Association as a community-based Gaelic Games and Culture organisation with the club and the club player at its core. Unfortunately, there is a clear and growing disconnect between the leadership of the GAA and their grassroots members.

The reality is one of players voting with their feet and deciding that they do not all belong with their clubs and their teammates. The Taskforce will report in due course and players, members, coaches and administrators can decide for themselves if the results and the proposals are the best that the GAA can come up with for the future of our games. We in the CPA strongly believe this not to be the case.”

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