Critics have it wrong states Farrell
GPA chief adamant that players' group do a lot to help weaker hurling counties
Dessie Farell has defended the GPA's record of hurling promotion in the sport's traditional backwaters amid criticism that the money spent on the Fenway Classic in Boston last weekend could have been more productively used in the advancement of the game in its weaker hinterlands in Ireland.
Explaining that "there was no cost to the GAA nor GPA in relation to this event, nor to the County Boards," on account of AIG's sponsorship, the GPA CEO stressed: "We do a lot for weaker hurling counties here. Donal O'Grady this year chaired a work group for us to review what's happening in non-traditional counties.
"And he already has made several recommendations, and many of those were introduced throughout the course of the year.
"We'll be finalising a report with comprehensive recommendations, and will submit that to the GPA in early December.
"We do an awful lot of work on that basis. I think many of the players who operate at that level will recognise that fact as well.
"But this is something very different," Farrell added of the game which partly through the fractious nature of the exchanges between Dublin and Galway, has attracted strictly more publicity on this side of the Atlantic than had been expected.
"This is something innovative. If we want to grow the games to international audiences, we have to think differently about our approach to date," he explained. Pointing to an attendance of almost 28,000 in the iconic home of the Boston Red Sox, Farrell reckoned: "I think it had to be viewed as a great success," as a means of showcasing hurling to an American audience, a goal not well served in Farrell's estimation by the bi-annual All Stars game.
"Typically, it has been All Stars tours and, in my opinion, those games do a disservice to the GAA, as an organisation, and to Gaelic games as a whole," he said.
"Without doubt, there are opportunities in the US and I think what we're trying to tap into is the goodwill, the interest and the passion for sport amongst a significant Irish-American audience in the US."
Danny Sutcliffe, who played for Dublin in the game, reckoned the sense of occasion in Boston hadn't travelled back to Ireland in an accurate way, with much of the Irish reaction to the game focusing on the row which kicked off in the second quarter.
"I didn't see the way it was built up on tv ….but I heard there was only a five minute build-up (on TG4)," Sutcliffe explained.
"It was a full day event over there. Every taxi man was talking about it when we met them.
"There were banners up in restaurants. It was a really big event. I don't think people caught that at home at all.
"You could see by the turnout. It was a really big event in Boston. A lot of the time, you wouldn't get that in Croke Park.
"So I don't think people over here really appreciated it."
Meanwhile, Farrell insisted that "people would be naïve if they think that the GPA wouldn't be involved in some capacity in relation to disputes between players and management or players and county board," after recent events in Mayo and Galway.
However, he emphasised: "We don't operate on the basis of rabble rousing, we operate on the basis that we try to bring some sort of resolution and support our players in thinking clearly about this and advising and guiding them on the best way forward.
"We've submitted proposals to the GAA in relation to trying to address the challenges around the appointment of management teams and the review of management teams.
"Ultimately, that revolves around giving players a significant input but similarly we do understand that it's the county boards that approve of those management positions and are ultimately responsible for reviewing those managers' performances."