No progress in finding resolution to expenses row between players and GAA

Morgan says players will continue to boycott post-match media interviews this weekend

Tyrone’s Niall Morgan after the Ulster senior football championship preliminary round game against Fermanagh at Brewster Park, Enniskillen. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

No progress has been made in finding a resolution to the expenses row between the GAA and the Gaelic Players’ Association, despite a “productive” meeting by the two bodies last week.

Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan, a member of the GPA’s executive committee, confirmed on Wednesday night that protests would continue this weekend, with players boycotting post-match media interviews as a result of a lack of movement from the GAA on the issue.

Following last Thursday’s meeting, a joint statement said that a framework had been put in place to try to reach a resolution.

The impasse centres around a renewal of the 2019 Charter, which limits player expenses to four training sessions a week. Anything beyond that has to be negotiated locally with county boards.


“There was a meeting last Thursday, and it was all but agreed that things would be rectified this week and things would go back to the way they were before,” said Morgan. “But as of yet there is no white smoke. Until that happens then in terms of the media it will be the same practice after games, which is unfortunate. “We are still cutting out all match-day stuff and then during the week it is up to managers who they put forward.”

However, Morgan sounded a note of optimism that renewed lines of communication with the GAA could lead to a resolution of the current dispute.

“At least now the conversation is happening whereas beforehand that wasn’t the case. The way it works is that the GAA puts forward a charter and the GPA have to agree to it before it is sent out. The GPA didn’t agree to this charter because of the inequalities in it.

“The GAA basically said ‘ well, tough’ and sent it out anyway. So not only did they bypass the GPA who hadn’t agreed to it but they also bypassed another part of the protocol which is dispute resolution. The fact was they took the law into their own hands, so at least now the dispute resolution is happening. Once that happens there is only going to be one winner.”


The All-Star goalkeeper pointed out that while mileage has been a much-publicised central issue, a more pressing concern is the limit placed on the size of intercounty squads.

“It’s not just the mileage. That is a sub-issue. The biggest issue is the 32-man panel problem. At least with the mileage question everybody is being treated the same. We are lucky in Tyrone because in other counties they are calling them development squads and not paying them at all. These lads are being told to come to training but aren’t getting any expenses at all.”

Meanwhile, Morgan believes Ulster SFC opponents Derry will take heart from the difficulties experienced by the All-Ireland champions when Fermanagh ran at them in last week’s preliminary round tie.

“Fermanagh will have seen how they got joy against us, and Derry will take encouragement from that too. It’s up to us to take it on board, those mistakes, and be ready for the next day.

“To be fair Fermanagh could have come out and sat 15 men behind the ball and accepted a defeat. But they were positive and came at us. Maybe that in itself caught us off guard a wee bit because we weren’t sure how they were going to play. They definitely put it up to us in the first half.”

Just a point separated the sides at half time, and while Tyrone were able to pull away in the third quarter, the Erne men struck for two late goals.

“It’s disappointing to concede at any stage. I suppose that is where we definitely have to get better. For want of a better word the professional side of things need to be improved.

“Whenever Dublin were on top they kept that up for the full game and didn’t allow the opposition a sniff. They were ruthless and that’s what we have to be in terms of finishing games out and not letting teams back into it and put a better gloss on the score-line.

“In fairness it’s best to take them on board now. If Fermanagh had stopped playing with 15 minutes to go we wouldn’t have any learning to take from the second half in particular.”

Under their belts

The Oak Leafers travel to O’Neills Healy Park for the quarter-final on Sunday week, and Morgan feels Tyrone will benefit from having a Championship game already under their belts.

“You don’t like being the first team out, but whenever you get the win you don’t mind. We have got a game under our belts. We are moving forward. We had a strong finish to the league as well.

“But it’s good to get the championship season going. That is what everybody looks forward to, and hopefully the weather picks up too and we can have an enjoyable few weeks to look forward to.”