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GAA president would meet with players association

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — New GAA president Sean McCague refused to rule out a future meeting with the controversial Gaelic Players Association at last week’s annual Congress in Galway.

Even though the GPA, which has been established to promote the interests of players, has been largely dismissed by Croke Park in recent months, McCague struck a more conciliatory note in his address to delegates.

"I have no views set in stone as to whether a meeting with the GPA should or should not take place," he said. "Indeed, I feel that such an articulation of mutual views would serve a meaningful purpose for the association. I would consider the option particularly if this leads to education and harmonization."

However, all was not sweetness and light when the GPA’s administrator, Donal O’Neill, was refused admittance to Congress. In what was a planned publicity stunt, O’Neill got his picture in the papers being turned away from the delegates’ meeting room.

McCague was more forthright when it came to the issue of player discipline.

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"I want to be able to stand before you in three years’ time and honestly say there has been an improvement in discipline," he said. "We must learn from International and Australian Rules and clamp down heavily on the ‘third player’ who joins an altercation between two players and then sparks a free-for-all."

Not surprisingly, the plan to revamp the football championship and National League was not accepted and the topic will discussed at a Special Congress next October. Also, a motion to outlaw the handpass in football failed, as did a Kilkenny proposal to introduce the advantage rule. It was decided that all intercounty games would be of 70 minutes and five subs allowed.

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