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Club players’ leader Declan Brennan claims huge support for change

By Declan Bogue

Published 21/10/2016

Muddy waters: Players are hoping to avoid the bad weather by having a condensed club season
Muddy waters: Players are hoping to avoid the bad weather by having a condensed club season

Declan Brennan, the figurehead of what is being called the ‘Club Players’ Association’ (CPA), has claimed the group have received approximately 37,000 messages of support in their bid to advance the plight of club players around the country.

And the Clontibret man believes this gives them a clear mandate to begin their work, which will begin in two weeks’ time with an official launch.

“We are now, between Twitter, Facebook, text messages, emails, cards, letters in the post, up around 37,000 communications,” Brennan claims.

“This is not ‘best of luck,’ ‘well done,’ ‘good idea,’ this is 10 or 12 lines of genuine passion, concern and willingness to get involved.

“If that doesn’t give a mandate to a group of people, I don’t know what does.”

Brennan has stated he is busy assembling a team of interested stakeholders in their bid to regularise the club season and will work for the next six months to achieve their goals — which also happens to be around the time-frame of the 2017 GAA Congress.

He remained tight-lipped about the identity of people in the group, stating: “Out of respect for everybody involved —some people don’t even know who else is involved because I wanted everybody involved for the right reasons.”

He explained: “It’s very simple; we want to condense the season to facilitate the club player in having a life and the county player who is playing for their club.

“Not to have a situation where they are physically and mentally drained —losing out academically, losing out on promotion-wise in work etc., to a situation where they cannot plan their week.”

It was perhaps pure coincidence that in the week news breaks of a new body willing to stand up and represent the needs of club players — which make up around 99% of the playing population — that an extended document of director-general Páraic Duffy’s Championship reforms, which aims to free up more weekends for club activities, was released to the wider media.

Brennan, who has won four Monaghan titles with Clontibret and also led DCU to a Sigerson Cup triumph in 2006, acknowledges the work of his fellow Monaghan man, but stops short of conveying his feelings towards the second draft of the document. 

“In fairness to Paraic Duffy and the president, they have a number of committees working in different stuff. They are putting together things right, left and centre, trying to get a consensus to move the thing forward,” explained Brennan. 

“Yes, I have looked at the proposal in detail. But I am making no comment on proposals, positive or negative, until two weeks’ time. I think it would be unfair to do that as an individual at this moment in time.”

Asked if he has had any contact with Croke Park officials prior to and since the announcement of his group forming, he replied: “Everybody knows who I am, everybody knows who the Croke Park officials are. It’s not about that and it’s not about seeking confrontation.

“This is about lending a hand, getting involved, and getting to an end result. If that means from our perspective that we have to do this, that and the other to bring this across the line, we have to do that.” In the meantime, the work of the CPA will be reaching out to every GAA unit in all codes to establish lines of communication and do some fact-finding.

“We have a system ready to roll out in two weeks’ time that will be going out to every single club in the country,” he said.

“We have a petition, we will be organising a representative from every club to take the views of the club players in all codes, put it down on paper.

“Whether we have 50,000 people or a million people, then we have a mandate to move forward.”

Belfast Telegraph

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