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Boards must not allow county training to resume before agreed date, warn GPA



Firm stance: GPA chief Paul Flynn has laid it on the line Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Firm stance: GPA chief Paul Flynn has laid it on the line Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Firm stance: GPA chief Paul Flynn has laid it on the line Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

The Gaelic Players' Association have hit out at what they describe as "sustained negative discourse surrounding inter-county players" in the build-up to the resumption of the current season.

The players' body claim that optimism surrounding the return to competitive action has been "eroded" because of this.

And they brand as "unfortunate" the club v county narrative which has surfaced yet again, this time surrounding the itinerary for the remainder of the year.

While the GPA acknowledge that significant progress has been made in terms of planning to relaunch a season that at one stage look destined to be declared null and void, anecdotal evidence that would suggest some counties are already engaged in collective training sessions has undoubtedly struck a raw nerve with the players' body.

One of the main reasons for this is that even before the fixture-makers had sat down to mull over the inter-county itinerary for the remainder of this year, the GAA had made it quite clear that the Player Injury Scheme would be withdrawn until September 14, the date on which county squads are due to reconvene for collective training.

The Gaelic Players' Association are now calling on county boards not to sanction collective training sessions before September 14. But while firm in this connection, the Association would appear to have no objection to club players linking up with their respective county squads when their involvement in their domestic campaign has ended.

Former Dublin All-Ireland winner Paul Flynn is CEO of the players' body and has been to the fore in outlining the road map which had been drawn up by the Central Competitions Control Committee in tandem with the Management Committee and the Covid-19 Special Advisory Committee.

The GPA statement said: "As there is sustained negative discourse surrounding inter-county players, the GPA want to make the following points.

"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 date.

"However, the GPA believe that common sense should prevail, allowing players to return to inter-county training once their involvement in Club Championship action is complete. We presented this viewpoint to the Covid-19 Advisory Committee and the GAA's Central Competition's Control Committee (Friday, June 19) and it is something that we will continue to work towards.

"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.

"Covid-19 still presents a risk to our society, community and games. We must be united in our approach to addressing this challenge as we move forward in what is a difficult season."

Belfast Telegraph