"Our membership are crying out for change" - GPA Chairman, Seamus Hickey

Off The Ball's Colm Parkinson speaks to Seamus Hickey about the role of the GPA and player welfare

Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey says that the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is continuing to fight for the welfare of players across both codes and says the role of the organisation is evolving to meet the needs of the players.

Speaking to Colm Parkinson on tonight's Off The Ball, Hickey also insists that the association didn't compromise themselves by accepting funding by from the GAA.

"What a lot of people don't understand is that that's the model [accepting funding] across the world" he said.

"It is when you look at the National Football League's Players association. Their members are paid, but the agreement for the NFL is for a percentage of broadcasting rights."

When the point was put to him that GAA players don't receive a similar percentage for broadcasting rights he responded: "We still get a percentage of GAA income by the fact that we're getting money to fund our player development programme."

With the GAA TV rights drawing in more and more money, Hickey said that there was a possibility that a percentage of the money received by the GAA may go to the GPA, despite that term not being listed in the current agreement between the two bodies.

"Who's to say that it's not on the table. We're renegotiating... What we're getting now regardless is still tied to income from the GAA. [What we receive] is called a donation at the moment. I don't necessarily agree with and what was negotiated in, I wasn't part of those negotiations.

"What we got in 2010 was that players are a key contributor to the generation of revenue in the GAA and that in itself was an important principle to enshrine in a document.

"We need to grow and develop. What players commit to the game has increased significantly year on year. The landscape now is different to what it was in 2010. We're constantly trying to evolve and grow. Like that, we're looking at the models across the world."

The GPA's proposals to change the championship and the GAA calendar never made it to the central council, and Colm pointed out that the structures that are in place limit the impact of the association.

"It's difficult to get proposals through under the current model. In congress we have 1 representative out of 300+, that's the reality of it. At the moment we don't have the power to bring motions to congress. We do have a seat on Ard Comhairle in management. We do have a voice there but it still is one of many.

"It's fair to say our membership are crying out for change, in Championship structure - hurling and football. To different degrees in both. That's why we put so much effort in last year to put proposals together.

"It was disappointing because the GAA's committee dealing with championship proposals determined from the off that the criteria to be met was to have a B Championship as part of the proposal. Our members didn't want that and voted overwhelmingly against it.  Not making that one criteria meant that we weren't considered off the bat. That was very frustrating because we put a lot of work into that."