Hundreds of Gaelic football legends gathered at the Croke Park Hotel last Sunday for a Past Players All-Ireland reception hosted by the Gaelic Players Association.
Kerry heroes Mick O’Dwyer, Sean Walsh and rugby star Mick Galwey, an All-Ireland medal winner with the Kingdom in 1986, Tyrone legend Peter Canavan and former Dublin captain of the 1970s Tony Hanahoe were among those who attended before the clash of Donegal and Mayo.
The Past Players Event was initiated by the GPA in 2011 with a view to developing a network of former players and the plan is to host a full past player’s banquet on the weekend of the All-Ireland football final in 2013.
“We set up a Past Players Advisory Group last year under the chairmanship of Tony Hanahoe to look at how the GPA can support past players, in particular to promote the fact that former county hurlers and footballers can approach us for help,” said GPA chairman Dónal Óg Cusack.
“We are particularly targeting past players who may be struggling and need our support. We know that due to the economic problems in Ireland there are many in financial difficulty. We have a hardship fund in place to help players but until we create a network, many may be reluctant to contact us for help or may be unaware that they can do so.
“An annual social gathering for former players is a great way to acknowledge their contribution to the game and it is an ideal opportunity for us to promote what we do for past players.
“We’ve had a hugely enthusiastic response from past players who are delighted to get a chance to meet with their former playing colleagues and opponents. We hope to have at least three hundred former hurlers and footballers at a banquet next year, the day before the All-Ireland football final.”
Any former county players now based in the US who are interested in becoming part of the GPA’s past player network should contact Seán Potts at firstname.lastname@example.org.