THE CLUB PLAYERS Association (CPA) have confirmed they won’t be backing Páraic Duffy’s proposals to revamp the All-Ireland senior football championship.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Last August, Duffy unveiled his plan to replace the quarter-finals with two groups of four, which would involve the addition of eight extra games into the inter-county football calendar.

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Duffy’s proposals will go in front of GAA Congress next month, but the CPA say they are opposed to the suggested format.

“We are calling on Páraic Duffy to park his proposals pending proper consultation,” CPA chairman Micheal Briody said in a statement released on Monday night.

“We have had a very positive response since our official launch. Over 15,000 club players have registered so far. Their expectation is that the GAA will step up to the plate and address the fixtures issue for all players.

“If the current proposals are passed, there will be no realistic possibility to change until the 2019 season at the earliest. By then it could be too late. This needs (to be) sorted now.”

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CPA secretary Declan Brennan and chairman Michael Briody

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He continued:  ”We have had several informal discussions with the director-general Páraic Duffy at which we have exchanged views.

“We appreciate greatly Páraic taking time to meet us and recognise the legitimacy of the CPA.”

The CPA have also written to Duffy on behalf of club players, highlighted three key areas they feel require immediate attention:

1. CPA Recognition

We are calling upon and appealing to County Boards to vote to officially recognise the CPA at the forthcoming Congress. We are at the stage as an Association where we need to consider what’s right for all our members, not who’s right. Given the nature of Congress we believe it is important that the motion proposed by Wexford and Tipperary County Boards is heard at Congress and given due consideration without the possibility of procedural interference or impairment. We are writing to County Boards this week inviting their mandated support to achieve the necessary support. The CPA is committed to working with and supporting County Boards. Agreement on fixtures will make their work easier.

2. Fixtures Proposal

The CPA is today announcing that it cannot support the fixtures proposals brought forward by Páraic Duffy. We are therefore calling on Páraic to put his ideas on hold pending further consideration. We respect Páraic’s position over the last 9 years as Director General and his immense experience as a professional GAA official.  However we cannot support the proposals on three main grounds:

  • They do not fully take on board the need for an agreed fixtures programme for club players, or take account of legitimate concerns raised including club player welfare and well being, holidays and closed season.
  • They are detrimental towards hurling, and in their presented form are creating an unwelcome imbalance in the Association, especially at a time when hurling nationally needs renewed focus. Both games must be given parity of esteem. This is non negotiable.
  • The proposals pre date the establishment of the Club Players’ Association. The view expressed to us by club players who are the majority playing population, is that club fixtures need to be fully considered in any proposals going forward.

3. Fixtures Think Tank

To this end we call for the immediate establishment of a Fixtures Think Tank to meet, take on board and consult fixtures experts in the GAA, and if necessary take evidence from other sports. Their remit will be to report back within a fixed timeframe with a programme and principles that create uniformity and help county boards who are unfairly often in the firing line. Their findings will outline the way forward to make our Association fit for purpose and serve the GAA for the next stage of its evolution and the challenges we all face.

We must remember the articles of our Association when first established by Cusack, Davin and the founding fathers:

“Davin spoke first about the plan to start a new organisation for sport. He described how many Irish games were losing popularity and dying out in some cases in the countryside and appealed for a revival.

“‘The Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes’ was chosen as the official name but it soon became known familiarly by the shortened title of the GAA.”

It is time again to preserve and cultivate our games for all our members.

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