Paul Flynn bemoans 'disconnect' in Tier 2 vote
Last Updated: 06/11/19 5:46pm
The introduction of a second tier for the 2020 championship in Gaelic football was rubber-stamped in Cork last month, but it was not without dissent.
It has long been a contentious issue within the association, and there was staunch opposition in some quarters - not least from those who will be competing.
"They [the players] are not happy," said Gaelic Players Association CEO Paul Flynn.
"There are some counties that are very vocal about it, still against it. And there are others that are really disappointed. We don't want to get into a culture of [saying] 'typical'. It can't be that way.
"I just don't understand how they can't listen to the players who are the guys who are going to be playing the game."
The GPA feel the players should have been heard
"The Fixtures Task Committee can come up with recommendations, but they won't be implemented until 2021, so we're in a one-year limbo stage.
"It is disappointing that at Congress, there was some county board officials standing up saying one thing...promoting the Tier 2, where we know the players in their squad had voted against the Tier 2. There's a real disconnect there."
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There is a fear that there won't be adequate buy-in from players for a second-tier competition, if it is not served correctly.
"Unless these games are given proper promotion, proper structures, put on at the same time as the senior football games, then there's always going to be that risk," Flynn continued.
"Even with regards to some of the things in the hurling this year, we've been pushing so hard to get these games promoted. It's increasingly difficult, but we need to make those assurances.
"It needs to be black and white assurances. Players weren't given that and that's why they didn't support it. We had two-thirds of our players from Division 2, 3 and 4, just taking away Division 1, but two-thirds of the players from Division 2, 3 and 4 who could potentially be impacted by it...were against it.
"And then the administrators roll in and there's just that disconnect there. I just don't understand how they can't listen to the players who are the guys who are going to be playing the game.
"We do a lot of work in getting the players' voice, understanding what they want us to represent, we represent their voice and then the administrators don't listen. That makes it difficult."
The GAA-GPA All-Star awards on Friday night honoured the standout hurlers and footballers in 2019. However, unlike previous years, there was no side named for the Joe McDonagh Cup, and the Champion 15 for the Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cups were pooled, leaving many unhappy.
"It's a really fair point," conceded Flynn, when quizzed on the issue. "There were changes made to the Hurling All-Stars because of last year, the system was flawed as it was as well. They were decided by the county managers or someone like that. I think the Champions 15 for McDonagh and Ring last year, there were two goalkeepers on the All-Star selection.
"What we wanted to try and do was make the two of them more relatable so you had 45 All-Stars nominees, 45 Champion 15 nominees and you pick two teams of 15. McDonagh was in with the Liam MacCarthy and it is always going to be challenging but when they get a nomination, that would be as good as getting on a Champion 15 that was selected by the managers.
"There was engagement with players as well on this but it hasn't landed as well as maybe was expected so we'll go back to the players now, review it and always be open-minded to improving it."
The players' body has had its detractors in recent times, and Flynn moved to clarify some of the issues raised in a Sunday Independent column by pundit Joe Brolly from the weekend.
"I'm not going to get into a public spat with Joe Brolly," the ex-Dubs star said. "He's entitled to his opinion as much as anybody is. But there were a couple of things he outlined that were factually untrue. Things around our commercial independence. We don't actually have commercial independence, just to clarify that. We have through our agreement with the GAA, we aren't actually able to go out and engage with corporates on our own. We can do it through a joint-venture that we have with the GAA.
"Also around 'unchecked, ungoverned'. We've very strong governing structures.
"We're fully compliant with the government code for sporting organisations. We're audited by Deloitte.
"We've a GAA representative on our finance committee. We've a remuneration committee with three independents, who decide on salaries, and all salaries are bench-marked against other sporting organisations and similar organisations that exist in our size.
"Other than that, he's entitled to his opinion.
"But I'll keep fighting the fight for the players and representing them."