Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Get in the Ring, Dessie!

Cuirígí coisc air!Mr Dessie Farrell, self-styled chief executive of the self-styled Gaelic Players Association, has been doing the media circuit again lately. Dessie has been droning on about a final smackdown between the GAA and the GPA over players’ “rights.”

To which An Spailpín Fánach says: Bring it on, Dessie. It’s never been entirely clear just whom the GPA represents, and that leaves cynics wondering that maybe they just represent themselves. A glance at laughably named Facts and Figures section of the GPA website is instructive: President, DJ Carey; Chairman, Dónal Óg Cusack; Secretary, Kieran McGeeney. It reads rather like the roll-call of the Justice League of America, don’t you think? President, Superman; Chairman, Batman; Secretary, Wonder Woman, and so on.

The current bee in Dessie’s bonnet concerns certain grants that the government has made available to all inter-county players for the great contribution they make to public life in this great and wonderful little green nation of ours. The sordid details of handing out the actual gelt the Government is leaving to the peons, of course. It’s infra dig for the Government to get it’s hands dirty, you know. You know yourselves the chances of the average civil servant being able to do it.

The GAA itself can’t administer these grants, as that would be tantamount to paying for play, in complete contraction with the organisation’s beliefs. And this is where Dessie sees his chance – he wants the GPA to act as the intermediary, or bagman, to distribute the loot.

The GAA is damned if they’ll let him get away with this, and they’re right. Bad and all as paying players for playing, paying Dessie and the boys to pay players for playing is just plain stupid.

Dessie is currently doing the media rounds throwing shapes because the media lack either the will or the knowledge to call his bluff. To wit, there never will be a players’ strike called by the GPA because that would be the same as turkeys voting for Christmas, and Dessie doesn’t fancy giving it all away just yet. Besides, even if the media haven't done their sums, I'm sure Dessie has - a grant of €5 million, as reported in the Irish Times link above, distributed among 150,000 GPA members, works out at €33.33 each before tax, and about seventeen clams or so after it (as the GPA would never encourage tax evasion). Hardly enough to throw away an inter-county career on.

What will happen if all the GPA members in the country decline selection for their counties? Nothing. Their county boards will find someone else to wear the shirts, and the county will be represented just as before, on those countless other occasions when players declined selection. The striking GPA member will then be in considerable negative equity with his team manager, for whom any sign of doubtful commitment is almost always a reason for the chop. You say county teams can’t go without their star players? It’s October – they can all tick along just fine until May at the least. And An Spailpín Fánach gets the feeling that no-one is going to give up their Championship summer just so Dessie Farrell can ponce around like some sort of Séamus Guevara. In the meantime, Dessie Farrell is just taking advantage of a dim and docile media to try and Uriah Heep some positive PR for himself and his organisation.

I would suggest that the next time Dessie appears on any media outlet the interrogator asks him a few questions that An Spailpín Fánach – always an eager student of the human condition – is quite anxious to know.

  1. Who pays Dessie Farrell’s wages as CEO of the GPA?

  2. Who pays the rent on the GPA offices at 132 Lower Drumcondra Street, Dublin 9?

  3. If the GPA owns the premises, how did they fund the purchase?

  4. Who pays the rest of the wages for the full-time staff of the GPA, to say nothing of the three new positions currently advertised?

  5. If they GPA is so awash in money, does that not invalidate their central thesis, that the players haven’t a pot to piss in?

Time to call these jokers’ bluff. They make me tired.

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