Limerick’s Seamus Hickey is new GPA chairman
Dublin footballer Paul Flynn has become the new secretary of the players’ association
Limerick defender Seamus Hickey is the new GPA chairman. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey is the new chairman of the Gaelic Players Association after being elected at Saturday’s AGM of the players’ body in Athlone. He replaces the long-standing Dónal Óg Cusack as the latter takes his leave after 13 years as non-executive chairman of the GPA.
Hickey, a member of the national executive committee for the past three years, has played an increasingly active role in the affairs of the GPA. He was part of the GPA’s Educational Review Group and recently helped manage the successful Super 11s project in Boston.
Dublin footballer Paul Flynn, another member of the GPA national executive and part of the association’s educational review committee, replaces the out-going David Collins as secretary of the GPA. President Dermot Earley, meanwhile, was returned unopposed.
Waterford’s Noel Connors and Cork hurler Stephen McDonnell have also been appointed to the executive.
Speaking after his appointment Hickey said: “I am honoured to be elected... As a county hurler I realise the ability of the GPA, through the development programme, to make a profound difference to the lives of players who need to achieve balance in their lives due to the commitments involved in their sport.
“I look forward to playing a leading role in the GPA and working with the staff and officers in supporting our county players.”
Chief Executive of the GPA Dessie Farrell added: “I’d like to congratulate Seamus Hickey and Paul Flynn on their election and Dermot (Earley) on his return. I’d also like to thank sincerely our outgoing officers Dónal Óg (Cusack) and David (Collins) for their dedication to the organisation. On behalf of the GPA team, we now look forward to working closely with Seamus and Paul who have been excellent members of our executive to date.
“The GPA is a very ambitious and hard-working organisation and we are dependent on the essential input of our non-executive officers and their voluntary efforts on behalf of players.
“On that score the contribution of Dónal Óg to the GPA has been immeasurable. His leadership has been inspirational to everyone who worked with him. On a personal level it was a privilege to share the journey with Dónal Óg for nearly a decade and a half. Throughout those eventful years I can attest to Dónal Óg’s integrity, judgement, courage and passion.
“I hope that Dónal Óg will be able to contribute to GPA projects in the future and I’ve little doubt that he will continue to play an active role in the development of our games. In the meantime I wish him the very best in his new role with Clare.”
Working in a voluntary capacity since 2002, Cusack has been hugely instrumental in the development of the GPA. The three-time All-Ireland medal winner played a pivotal role in brokering the agreement with the GAA which saw the GPA recognised as the official representative body for players in 2010.
Cusack, who has taken up a role in the Clare senior hurling management team, said on Saturday: “While today is an emotional day for me personally it is an important day for the GPA as we look to the future and embrace change. I am incredibly proud of the GPA and what we have achieved together. I’d like to thank the GPA staff and officers but particularly Dessie Farrell who has helped build a quite remarkable organisation. There are also many selfless and courageous players who quietly served the development of the Association during my period as chairman, whose playing days are now behind them. I salute their contribution and wish new officers Seamus Hickey and Paul Flynn the very best of luck in their new roles.
“I believe the GPA player development programme, supporting our athletes to be their very best off the field as well as on it, is a model that will serve players and the wider GAA very well into the future. Of course there are significant challenges still to be met - none more so that ensuring county players increasingly engage with GPA programmes and do not commit to the games at the expense of their personal development. We need to ensure that the proper resources are made available to support our players.”