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GPA chief Dermot Earley calls for protocols regarding testimonials

Earley was responding to the upcoming – and controversial – testimonial of Colm Cooper

Dermot Earley says there needs to be protocols surrounding GAA player testimonials such as the upcoming one for Colm Cooper. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Gaelic Players Association CEO Dermot Earley has called for governing protocols in relation to player testimonials. He was responding to the controversy surrounding former Kerry footballer Colm Cooper, who is to be the beneficiary of such an evening next week.

“The way I see it and the GPA’s position is that a player can mark his retirement in any way that he sees fit. Whether we can financially support this – that’s something we can’t do.

“We may see more of these happening; the game is at the highest level it’s ever been at and the profile of players is the highest it’s ever been. I think we need to it down and develop some protocols, criteria or rules around this and I think that’s something I’ll be bringing up with the GAA.”

The head of the GPA, who was speaking at the launch of the association’s annual MBA scholarship partnership with DCU in the university’s School of Business, was asked would he like to see testimonials prohibited.

“I wouldn’t say that … but I’d like to see protocols introduced. Once they’re looked at, examined and agreed upon there’ll be a greater appreciation and acceptance. It’s not the first time testimonials have happened. We’ve seen them in the past – in my own county as well. We just need clarity and I’m open to ideas.”

He agreed that such protocols might include reflecting the collective context of the team as well as the individual concerned.

“That’s a fair comment but we also have to acknowledge that the profile of individual players is huge. They do give a lot in order to be successful so you have to look at all aspects of it.”

Cooper’s initiative has been held by Croke Park not to be in contravention of the rules but the GAA has made it clear that it doesn’t support the event.

Recipients of this year’s MBA scholarships are: Barry Moran (Mayo) and Conor Maginn (Down). Other masters scholarships awarded were to Cian Boland (Dublin), Cian Breheny (Sligo), Donal Breathnach (Waterford) and All-Ireland winning Dublin women’s footballer Leah Caffrey.