Players should be allowed to attend county training once club interest ends says GPA
THE Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) says players should be allowed to attend county training as soon as their involvement in club championships are over.
The shortened club season will take place over an 11-week period, starting on July 31, with the GAA ruling that county sides cannot train before September 14.
In a statement issued last night, the GPA acknowledged the embargo on inter-county training until that date. However, the statement went on to say it would be "highly negligent" of the GPA to not seek insurance cover for its members in the event that individual county boards sanction training before September 14.
GAA president John Horan has stated that the Association would not seek to punish counties that break the training embargo.
“Inter-county players, through the GPA, have been part of the GAA Covid-19 advisory committee since its inception. This is the committee that outlined the return to play protocols and a roadmap back to a programme of training and games,” read the GPA statement.
“As things stand and for complete clarity, the roadmap clearly highlights that there should be no collective inter-county training prior to September 14.
“However, it would be highly negligent of us, and utterly wrong as the body charged with looking after inter-county player welfare, not to seek to have any such training covered by the GAA injury benefit scheme, should these sessions be sanctioned by their respective counties.
“It is the role of each county board to ensure that these training sessions are not sanctioned prior to the agreed dates. However, the GPA believes that common sense should prevail, allowing players to return to inter-county training once their involvement in club championship action is complete.”
The GPA has also defended its members from perceived "negative discourse surrounding inter-county players".
Earlier this week Offaly chairman and former Faithful dual star Michael Duignan slammed the "hypocrisy" and "dishonest" message being sent out by the continuation of inter-county training through what has been designated as a club window.
But, in their statement, the GPA claimed an “air of optimism” in recent times had been “eroded somewhat by the club v county narrative”.
“The last week has seen significant progress being made towards the return of our games across the country. It is hugely positive to see pitches open again and teams getting back together.
“However, that air of optimism has been eroded somewhat by the ‘club v county’ narrative that has developed. This is very unfortunate, given a few short weeks ago we had the very real possibility that we would not see any action in 2020. That risk very clearly remains when we see what is developing across the world.
“Collectively, the GAA community have played a huge role in the tireless work this country has undertaken to fight Covid-19, which remains a very real threat to not just our games but society as a whole.
“Our focus needs to remain on following the protocols so that we minimise that risk to our communities and ensure we have a programme of games to enjoy at both club and county level.
“It should be noted that in the midst of the negative discourse surrounding ‘club v county’, inter-county players are incredibly proud and passionate to represent their communities; as a player it has always been club and county, not club v county.”