Paul Flynn defends GPA following criticism from Colm O’Rourke
Secretary of players’ body says many young men in need of services they help to promote
Kerry’s David Moran and Dublin’s Paul Flynn at the launch of Setanta Sports’ coverage of the 2016 Allianz Leagues. “If those services save one life then they’re worthwhile, end of story,” said Flynn. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Dublin footballer Flynn was appointed secretary of the GPA late last year, stepping up his involvement with the players body having previously been a member of their national executive.
He outlined the various initiatives that the Dessie Farrell-led group are involved in though acknowledged that they have also come in for criticism in recent times, labelling it ‘unfair flak’.
Former Meath footballer O’Rourke is one of the GPA’s foremost critics and, writing in his newspaper column last weekend, claimed that much of what the organisation is about is “bullshit”.
O’Rourke questioned the amount of time spent by the GPA on issues such as gambling addiction and the provision of scholarships and leadership programmes for members, suggesting that, in the past, county players “did not need a shrink, guru or life adviser to tell them how to lead a better life”.
Flynn, who has helped promote the work of suicide awareness group Pieta House, said O’Rourke’s comments amounted to telling young men to ‘toughen up’ and described this as “an awful thing to say”.
Asked if O’Rourke’s ‘bullshit’ comment was too strong a word, Flynn nodded.
“They might be in his eyes. Like, ‘toughen up’, that’s an awful thing to say. Mental illness is so prominent in society today. You can have as many organisations as you want out there working on it and there is I don’t know how many. Yet it’s still so prominent amongst males and predominantly the GPA is made up of all male members so that’s a great platform for services to be able to come in and to help. So that’s one thing I don’t agree with, ‘toughen up’.
“I don’t know what his angle is. I know he has a bit of a problem with the GPA for things that have gone on in the past. He’s entitled to say what he wants and I actually get on well with Colm, I know him from back when I played at DCU. But I just think that the ‘toughen up’ thing, I don’t agree with that at all.
“In society, there are services provided for people, whether it’s with regards to suicide, to addiction and things like that. They might be there but people mightn’t use them or get the exposure to them. So the GPA, what they are doing, is good in my eyes, it’s breaking down the stigma for people to use those services and it’s making it very accessible for the players.
Flynn also hit out at the GAA’s Central Council for apparently disregarding the views of intercounty players with regards to championship reform.
A GPA proposal, backed by its intercounty playing membership, was among 18 recommendations considered by Central Council though, in the end, a much more conservative model was selected to go before next month’s Annual Congress.
It includes the provision of a ‘B’ championship for Division 4 counties though leaves the rest of the Championship largely untouched. Flynn said it feels like the players’ views were essentially rejected.
“For the intercounty players, who are rolled out every summer to create revenue for the GAA and to create a stir around the games, they then put forward what they feel could be a good option and it’s not listened to, I think that is disappointing,” said Flynn.
As for Flynn, the wing-forward said that he has taken three months off to completely rest a groin problem. He hopes to feature in the early rounds of the Allianz Football League.