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Board meeting backs GAA-GPA link

A meeting of the Clare GAA County Board on Wednesday night voted overwhelmingly to support the framework document, which should result in the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) operating under the wing of the GAA.
If a meeting of GAA Central Council on Saturday votes to refer the matter to GAA Congress next April, congress will vote on a motion of acceptance.
Under the proposed agreement, the GPA will receive €1.35m in funding in 2010, which includes provision for €250,000 to cover administrative costs. The GPA will receive a further €250,000 towards administrative costs in 2009.
Following an hour-long debate at this week’s meeting, Cratloe club chairman Packie O’Gorman proposed that the framework document be supported by Clare.
However, O’Callaghan’s Mills delegate Jackie McHugh proposed that a vote be taken.
The subsequent show of hands, which wasn’t counted, ensured that Clare will back the proposal at Saturday’s central council meeting.
Earlier at the meeting in the West County Hotel, Jackie McHugh described Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald’s description of the framework document as “very airy fairy”.
Asking the O’Callaghan’s Mills delegate if he had listened properly, Fitzgerald, who left the meeting halfway through, assured McHugh that none of the proposed €1.1m funding towards player welfare projects will be paid by the GAA to the GPA until the projects are evaluated.
Following a presentation by Clare Central Council delegate Tom Downes, county chairman Michael O’Neill expressed his support for the document.
Downes told the delegates that fears over the GPA’s apparent interest in pay-for-play were unfounded.
“A lot of people thought that what they were really out for was pay-for-play. But that has been dropped,” the Kilmihil man explained.
Clarecastle delegate Bernard Hanrahan asked where the GPA had acquired the money to pay for player welfare projects until now and asked why they didn’t continue to source income from the same areas.
Martin Reynolds (Clarecastle) described the GPA as elitist and reiterated his club colleague’s question over where the GAA money to fund the GPA would be found.
“Where is money going to come from? Are we now going to pay for a fella (Dessie Farrell, GPA chief executive) who has been agitating against us for the last five or six years,” Martin Reynolds queried.
Killaloe delegate Tony O’Brien also criticised the proposed link-up between the two organisations.
“We’re bringing them on board to the detriment of the club players,” he said.
“In principle I agree with it but it’s an elitist organisation,” O’Brien added.
Inagh-Kilnamona’s Paddy McGuane said that he had no problem supporting the proposal once it had become clear that the GPA had ruled out the prospect of pay-for-play.
“I can go forward with this because that’s clarified,” he said.
“I’m fully convinced that we have to look after the senior hurlers and footballers who play for the county,” O’Gorman stated.
Several speakers said that Clare inter-county players had been well looked after throughout the years and that player welfare isn’t an issue in this county.
While Cooraclare’s PJ McGuane backed the document, he had some reservations in relation to the GPA, saying he would prefer to have the organisation “inside in the tent, doing you know what out”.
Former board vice-chairman, Michael Lee said this debate should have been held 10 years ago and warned that the voluntary ethos of the GAA is even more important than players’ amateur status.
Ironically, this debate created much livelier discussion than the Clare senior hurling crisis did at the last county board meeting on November 10.
At the end of Wednesday night’s meeting, Kilmihil delegate Gerry O’Neill asked had the county board made any progress in relation to the senior hurling crisis.
Board chairman O’Neill said that the meeting was specifically called to deal with the GPA document. However, he said that a meeting between players, Mike McNamara and county board representatives would be held this weekend.

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