Election of Officers
The following officers were returned:
President: Brian Whelahan.
Chairman: Dónal Óg Cusack.
Secretary: Ronan Sweeney (Kildare)
The following motions were passed at the meeting:
1. Combined Ulster Hurling Squads
"The GPA recommends that the GAA and the Ulster Council examine the possibility of establishing Ulster Minor and U21 squads to compete in the All-Ireland series for a three-year period as a precursor to the establishment of an agreed Ulster Senior Hurling team competing in the Liam McCarthy Cup."
2. Players Charter
"The GPA calls on all county boards and county panels to engage fully in the process of agreeing their Players' Charter and to ensure that all completed documents are submitted to Croke Park by January 31st, 2013."
3. Government Funding for Inter-County Players
"Having already sustained substantial cuts, totalling 73 percent, to the Government Grants schemes, the GPA calls upon the Government to maintain funding at its current level in order to protect the principle of the Schemes and to continue to recognise the unique status of the amateur inter-county player in the world of Irish sport."
4. Athletes Alliance
"The GPA encourages both players' representative bodies and elite level athletes to establish a National Athletes' Alliance the aim of which will be to facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge and to provide support to athletes and to representative bodies."
Extract from Annual Report Address by GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell to GPA AGM, 2012
Following the historical changes undergone by the GPA in recent years it is with no small sense of satisfaction that I can report that our progress over the last 12 months continues to be equally compelling.
Uptake for our critical player services has grown substantially in a very short period, particularly in the vital areas of education and career development, as awareness of the long-term personal benefits for players increases.
Education and career development are essential for any player aspiring to a successful off-field career and the GPA is now in an established position to support those critical aspects of the player's life.
Our joint commercial activity with the GAA yielded its first major partnership with PwC while the joint GAA/GPA All-Stars awards scheme under the sponsorship of long-time player supporters Opel has gone from strength to strength. We are driving on with our joint efforts and will report further significant arrangements in the near future.
I am particularly enthused by the success of the GPA's Social Responsibility Programme this year which saw the development of players as mental health ambassadors for Headstrong while the creation of our inaugural Community Camp showed how the GPA can harness the many qualities of our players for the betterment of society in general.
One of the core principles of the Players' Association is ensuring that the contribution county hurlers and footballers make to the social and cultural fabric of Irish society is both recognised and promoted. Government Funding for our players, for example, is provided on this basis of this principle. However, it is an aspect which we as an organisation can and will develop further. While our players already make a significant contribution through their dedication to game, their leadership qualities make them ideal and powerful role models within their communities.
And enhancing those qualities through our Player Development Programme is an important objective of the GPA. A leader on the field can be a leader off it and through the intervention of our various support services for players, we can help them realise this potential and develop a new group of future influential leaders in Ireland.
It is interesting to note the growth in players engaging with our Entrepreneur Programme. By harnessing the many skills honed as a county player many are ideally placed to drive a new business and the GPA is now in a position to support these moves providing key start-up advice and marketing supports.
I'd like to pay tribute to the hard-working GPA staff members for their commitment to achieving our substantial objectives. Flexibility, dedication, efficiency and ambition are prerequisites to our work and our team displays those traits in abundance. I'd like to thank our various squad reps, our GPA Officers and voluntary Executive members for their outstanding contribution to the players' body over the past 12 months.
A special word of thanks to our service providers whose professionalism and efficiency has helped propel the Development Programme. Based on the measured outcomes and increasing body of testimonial feedback, players are being extremely well served.
We have an excellent productive working relationship with the GAA ensuring that players' views, opinions and issues are represented at the heart of the decision making process. I'd like to thank Director General Paraic Duffy for his on-going support for the work of the GPA and wish Uachtarán Liam Ó Néill the very best of luck during his tenure.
Our efforts to set up a long-term support network for players and the GPA Programmes in the US have been very successful over the past year with an increasing number of supporters coming on board. However, critical to the long-term success of these efforts will be raising awareness of our games through increased promotional work and exhibition matches.
I must acknowledge the incredible efforts being made on our behalf in the US by our Advisory Group and the many people helping to organise our Ireland-US Heritage Awards and Dinner Gala in New York in November 2012. Their interest in and respect for the contribution made by county players to Irish culture and society is extraordinary and is greatly appreciated by our players.
Congratulations to all squads on your contribution to another hugely successful GAA county season with all the attendant drama and, significantly, excellent attendances. As always this success is a testimony to your dedication.
Finally I would like to pay tribute to GPA member and Fermanagh footballer Brian Óg Maguire who was tragically killed in an accident this year, a year in which we also lost Jim Stynes and John Egan. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-ainmneacha.
Original Irish Jack-o-Lanterns were truly terrifying and made of turnips