Dr. Austin O'Kennedy
Former Donegal GAA team doctor Austin O’Kennedy is calling on all Donegal club players to get behind the newly formed Club Players Association.
The Donegal Town GP made the call ahead of the official launch of the new association next week in Dublin.
A member of the Four Masters club and the current club doctor, Dr O’Kennedy is a long time campaigner for a better deal for club players
He is also a member of the executive committee of the new association.
And he has been working behind the scenes for well over five months with Declan Brennan, from Monaghan, the main driving force behind the new association, and other executive members such as Aaron Kernan, Armagh and Anthony Miles, Meath.
“Declan Brennan is the secretary and he has put a huge amount of work and energy into getting the association up and running,” Dr. O’Kennedy said.
“Michael Briody, from Tuam, a former club chairman is the chairman. In all there are 11 people and we have good structures in place.”
Dr O’Kennedy was the Donegal team doctor for two decades between 1989 to 2009.
He is also the registrar for Donegal for the fledgling organisation and it was in that capacity that he spoke to the Donegal Democrat/DPP.
“The CPA is open to club players, coaches and supporters and anyone really with an interest in club football,” he said.
“I’m calling on all players and coaches in Donegal to join so that we can begin to address the difficulties being experienced by players.
“I’ve already had a number of ex-county players who have concerns about the way club football is going, expressing an interest in joining.
“The CPA intends to be the voice of the club player, to protect their well-being by delivering an unchangeable, meaningful fixtures programme within a shorter season for every club player.
“That is our sole objective for now. There may be other issues down the road like player welfare. But for now a fairer and more streamlined fixture programme is the number one priority.
“In order to get our voice heard in Croke Park, it is important that we get all club players in the county to join the association.
“The bigger the membership, the greater the voice we will have and stand a better chance of being recognised by Croke Park.”
The association have had discussions with the secretary general of the GAA Paraic Duffy, who is understood to be in broad agreement with their aims and objectives.
“We are not a threat to anybody and it is not a case of the CPA against the GPA (Gaelic Players Association),” Dr. O’Kennedy added.
“All we are about is to get a fairer and better deal for club players and we are willing to do that in a calm and sensible manner.
“We have proposals for change and we will obviously be listening to the members about their concerns and solutions.
“There is no quick fix. It will take two or three years and we hope to achieve that by sitting down and having sensible discussions on coming up with an acceptable solution.
“If that fails then there may be other avenues and courses of action open to us. We are in this for the long haul and to find a better deal for the club footballer and hurler.”
Membership to the new association is free and also open to county players.
The official launch of the CPA is on this day week, at the home of All-Ireland club champions Ballyboden St. Enda’s, in Dublin.
Membership is being taken on www.gaaclubplayers.com.
Dr Austin is also seeking assistance from club players interested in helping out with the recruitment drive. Anyone interested can contact him on 074-9721545 or by email to email@example.com.