Gaelic Players Association members want competitions completed within calendar year

An empty Croke Park awaits the return of action, Gaelic Players Association members are in favour on resumption of a 32 county open draw championship

Gaelic Players Association members have expressed that if a straight knockout football championship must be played that it be based on a 32 county open draw.

The GPA undertook a survey of its members in relation to a number of aspects of the GAA’s return to play road-map and the results of the survey were revealed in a letter to members today by CEO Paul Flynn after discussions with Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) last Friday.

With a reduced and condensed calendar options on inter-county competition structures will be limited if championships are to be completed in 2020.

But discussions with county representives and captains and the results of the survey which 1,153 players responded to revealed that in football players want the final two rounds of the national league completed and then followed by a championship in which every team is guaranteed two games.

If there isn’t room in the calendar to guarantee teams two games, then players want the provincial competitions to be scrapped and a 32 county straight knockout open draw championship to take its place.

In hurling the Gaelic Player Association members want either all remaining league games to be completed or at least the significant league games, followed by a championship in which teams have a guaranteed two games.

Under the GAA’s ‘Safe Return to Gaelic Games’ document no inter-county training can begin before the 14th of September.

But players want to be able to train with their county teams once they have exited their county club championships and want sessions prior to September 14tu covered by the Association’s injury fund.

Although the majority of players feel it’s safe to return, 17% of players have indicated they may not do so.

GPA will respect the decision of any player who opts out of playing

“We will work to resolve the issues which players have raised; however, while Covid-19 remains in the country, there will remain some risk.

“We will respect the decision of any players who opt out of playing in 2020. Equally, they would call for understanding from county boards, managers, and supporters on this matter.

“We are committed to putting support structures in place for any player who makes this difficult decision, and we urge you to reach out to your GPA representative or directly to anyone on the GPA team.”

Of the players surveyed 76% are in favour of competitions being completed in the same calendar year.

With what will be a later finish to the year than normal players have called for a defined off-season to be set out ahead of the 2021 season with 72% of players viewing this as very important.

So much so that players believe that the start of the 2021 season should be delayed to ensure this is accommodated.

“The GAA have positioned the inter-county competitions at the latter end of the year to maximise attendances,” the GPA letter points out.

“They now need to respect the views of inter-county players on these issues and as the high performing unit of our sport, the inter-county game needs to be given the respect it deserves.

“There are compromises outlined that we would not contemplate in a regular year and we cannot guarantee every squad or individual’s preferred outcome. However, our goal is to achieve the best possible result for as many of our members as possible, given the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves.”