HomeGAAMajor discussions on Balancing Amateurism with Professional Demands for GAA Players

Major discussions on Balancing Amateurism with Professional Demands for GAA Players

Gaelic Players Association’s Encouraging Developments Under New GAA Leadership

Positive Relationship with GAA Leadership

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has observed encouraging developments in its relationship with the GAA under the leadership of new GAA president Jarlath Burns. Despite this positive progress, the GPA remains committed to addressing several key challenges throughout the year.

Focus on Player Welfare and Competition Structure

One of the primary concerns for the GPA is player welfare and the current competition structure. At its AGM on Monday, the GPA emphasized the need for a balanced fixtures schedule that addresses the condensed nature of games. This includes ensuring a sufficient gap between league and championship, advocating for the implementation of agreed contact hours policy, and guaranteeing adequate rest and recovery periods, along with a defined off-season.

Commitment to Split-Season Model

The GPA insists that these principles must be designed within the split-season window, which already exceeds eight months of inter-county activity. “With changes in the competition structures anticipated for 2025, the GPA continues to strongly support a split-season for inter-county and club activity, which has been viewed positively by 85% of our players,” said CEO Tom Parsons.

Concerns Over Pre-Season Competitions

Parsons highlighted a key challenge: “The new structures were designed with the intention of pausing the pre-season competitions, and the GAA is trying to squeeze too many competitions into an agreed window for inter-county players.” This sentiment is shared by 63% of players, who believe that a split-season reduces the time demands on inter-county players.

Balancing Amateurism with Professional Demands

The GPA also addresses the growing professional and commercial demands placed on its elite amateur athletes. “Balancing commitments to their club, county, personal lives, and professional careers continues to be a juggling act that is becoming increasingly unsustainable,” Parsons noted. He stressed that a shorter season and defined break periods for inter-county players are absolute priorities.

Advocacy for Fair Treatment and Rights

In his address to the AGM, Parsons reiterated that the GPA is the official representative body for male and female inter-county players since merging with the WGPA in 2020. However, he criticized the selective recognition by the leadership of the LGFA and Camogie Association. “It is therefore contradictory of the associations to state that they do not recognise the GPA on other matters that are important to players,” he stated.

Maintaining Amateur Status Amid Professional Pressures

The GPA remains committed to maintaining the amateur status of inter-county players despite growing professional pressures. “We are actively advocating for policy changes that protect our players’ rights, ensuring they are treated with fairness and that their voices are influential in all aspects of our games,” Parsons added. He called on the broader community, including fans and corporate partners, to support the players’ amateur status while respecting their commitment to Gaelic games.

New Leadership in the GPA

Meanwhile, Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan and Dublin camogie star Aisling Maher were elected as the new co-chairs of the GPA’s National Executive Committee, replacing Matt O’Hanlon and Marie Kinsella.


The GPA is determined to champion the rights and welfare of its players, ensuring they are treated fairly and their contributions are valued. As the official representative body, the GPA looks forward to working collaboratively with all associations to protect the interests of inter-county players.

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