The themes of ‘Leadership’ and ‘Engagement’ were the central topics discussed at the second annual Gaelic Players Association Representatives Summit which took place in Dublin last weekend.

Over 100 GPA Reps from county squads nationwide were in attendance to tackle a range of topical issues in advance of the new season.

This gathering is a critical element in the Player Association’s planning process ensuring a greater number of players are involved in developing the vision and strategy of the players’ body.

Speaking about the Reps Summit, GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell commented: “The gathering gave us the opportunity to explore the concepts of real leadership in action and dynamic engagement within the playing body. We discussed expanding the Rep structure within county panels into a Rep Team. These leadership teams within squads will be an important conduit between players and GPA assisting us in delivering a world class service to our athletes.”

Former players Alan Quirke, Kieran McGeeney, Tony Griffin and Conor Cusack were among the principal speakers at the event. Players also participated in a series of interactive workshops.

GPA Ambassador Conor Cusack, a powerful campaigner in promoting mental health in Irish society, said afterwards: “The summit was a great example of how the GPA has rapidly evolved beyond just being about fundamental welfare issues such as gear and expenses, and that the Association now enhances players’ lives in more meaningful ways through the Development Program. Listening to the discussions with players at the summit I am greatly encouraged at how the GPA is and will continue to deepen its impact in society and other people’s lives in ways they and it could never have imagined.”

GPA President, Dermot Earley, commented: “It was wonderful to see such energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. It was inspiring for me to hear the views and well thought out arguments of so many players on other important topics on the agenda such as; negotiating the next deal with the GAA, new development programmes, squad charters, restructuring hurling and football championships which will no doubt inform GPA policy over the next 12 months and beyond."

Antrim hurler Neil McManus and Kilkenny’s recently retired keeper David Herity were announced as the GPA Reps of the Year for 2014. These awards are presented to the most influential Reps who best succeed in organizing their panels, encouraging engagement with GPA Programmes and promoting the work of the players’ body internally.