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Dermot Earley leaps to defence of GPA's fundraising ventures

Gaelic Games

By Declan Bogue

Gaelic Players' Association President, Dermot Earley, has defended the fundraising work of the players' body in light of recent criticisms.

Speaking on the GAA/GPA All-Stars tour of Boston this week, the former Kildare midfielder pointed out: "I'm pretty sure that they (the GPA) get 80 per cent of their funding from the GAA, but with the amount of programmes, particularly with scholarships and player development programmes as well, they do require the extra funding.

"When a player is in trouble, when they require a bit of advice, whether it be personal, financial, business development or mental health, the money and the funding is there, so it's essential that the GPA keeps fundraising."

There have been a number of columns and articles questioning the role of the GPA in recent weeks, but none as acerbic as Colm O'Rourke's.

Earley, who has performed many peace-keeping duties in his role as a captain in the Irish Army, would see it as an opportunity to get the GPA message out there.

"Colm asked a few questions, and the GPA responded," explained the 36-year-old. "I think the outcome of that was that people were made acutely aware of the huge amount that they do.

"In a way, when you look at Colm's article, I think the response was actually a good thing because it went out into the public domain the work the GPA do and not a lot of people were fully aware of that."

Earley retired from inter-county football in 2013, after a few injury-plagued years towards the end of his career. He played with his club Sarsfields in Kildare last year when they reached a county final but, since then, injury has forced his total retirement.

"I would still love to play," he added, before revealing what he has done to plug the hole left by county football.

"I'd be the type of person who needs something else to focus on, who needs a goal. Whether that be sporting or work-wise, I could fall straight back on my army career.

"I ended up going overseas for six months, went to Lebanon last November and then came back in May.

"My focus did change but not all players are as lucky as I was to have something to fall back on, career-wise.

"In that sense, the focus changes. I did find it an adjustment in that when you get a training programme at the start of a week, everything revolves around that and you adapt and adjust your own personal life to facilitate that.

"When that goes, it can be difficult. But as I said, there is a past players' association within the GPA and all those programmes are available to past players as well as current members, so they can avail of them."

Earley also questioned the possibility of club footballers and hurlers joining the GPA, pointing out that the numbers would be too vast to cope with the level of funding the union are granted and how much they can raise.

"I know that Dessie (Farrell, CEO of the GPA) did look at that," he explained, "but there's a huge amount, is there over 300,000 club players that are playing hurling and football in the country? To be honest, the GPA don't have the resources to deal with the club player.

"The one point they did make is that all county players are club players as well so that by helping a county player you are helping a club player.

"I know there was an issue with the fixtures problem. Every club player has a right to go to their own club delegates to the county board to bring motions in addressing that.

"When you compare it to other players' bodies around the country or around the world, they just cannot cope with the numbers."

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