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Club Players' Association chief hails positive start at Croker

By Declan Bogue

The Club Players' Association, the players' representative body headed up by former University Ulster Jordanstown and DCU coach Declan Brennan, held their first meeting at Croke Park on Saturday.

In making a room available to the fledgling body to host a gathering, the power brokers of the GAA are sending out a message of inclusiveness and general approval. Certainly it feels different from the renegade first few meetings of the Gaelic Players' Association.

Brennan, who has extensive experience of the club scene as a player and manager with his home club Clontibret and nearby Emyvale in Monaghan, revealed that they are on the cusp of a big announcement.

"We had about 25 people there and the only thing I can say now is that it was very productive," said Brennan of the Croke Park meeting.

"And we are moving forward over the coming days to get things put in place that people can see what we are about and what we are trying to achieve.

"It was just really productive and there is huge work being done behind the scenes. In due course we will be keeping everybody informed over the coming days as to what is happening. We will be releasing a statement regarding our objectives going forward towards the end of the week."

Players, managers and those concerned with the core objectives of the group - which would be establishing a regular playing season for clubs and curbing the pervasive influence of the county scene - will soon be able to register their interest to receive updates.

When it was suggested to Brennan that the location of Croke Park for Saturday's meeting infers a level of trust from the GAA, he responded: "Sure, there would be no reason not to be. We have said from day one that we don't want confrontation. Of course, that's why we had the meeting in Croke Park."

In the last fortnight, a number of high-profile players and GAA figures have leant their support to the body.

Joe Brolly, who also attended the historic first Gaelic Players' Association meeting in Belfast, along with Derry and Slaughtneil dual star Chrissy McKaigue, Tyrone's Matthew Donnelly, Dublin's All-Ireland-winning full-back Jonny Cooper and former Galway player Paraic Joyce have all thrown their weight behind the group.

Others, such as Eoghan Rua hurling manager Joe Passmore, have also pledged support.

Brennan explained: "This is a huge organisation that only started about two weeks ago. I am not getting into the nitty gritty about individual incidents. What I am trying to do is put a club player's voice in place. In due turn, there will be a registry base available to everyone and everybody will know exactly what our role is."

As for the future of the group, he insisted: "We are a voluntary body and we will remain a voluntary body."

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