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GAA: Burns and GPA 'positive' after latest meeting; MORE TALKS PLANNED.

Byline: COLM KEYS

THE GAA and the GPA remained tightlipped last night about their first official meeting in Croke Park on Wednesday.

GAA president Sean McCague and Players' Committee chairman Jarlath Burns met with a GPA delegation that included current chairman Dessie Farrell, and administrator Donal O'Neill.

A third member of the GPA party was believed to have been a solicitor.

The presence of a solicitor on the GPA side however was a significant development as they seek lobby for a number of concessions off the GAA on behalf of their members and other gaelic footballers and hurlers.

A wide range of issues were discussed but Burns would only say that it was "positive and constructive" and that another meeting was planned.

McCague and Burns had met unofficially with the GPA before in a Dublin hotel.

Relations took a dive however after the GPA entered an agreement with recruitment agency Marlborough in August 2000.

The scheme involved 10 players, all GPA members, doing promotional work in their local Marlborough offices.

The announcement took top GAA officials by surprise and was one of a number of high profile publicity stunts that year that annoyed the Association.

The appointment of Farrell as chairman has brought the GPA closer again to the GAA and Farrell and Burns have had a number of meetings.

The GAA were also pleased that the GPA approach became more dignified under Farrell's chairmanship and that led to more suitable grounds for discussion.

Ironically the GPA/Marlborough deal has turned sour over alleged payment difficulties and the players' group is now taking legal action against the recruitment company which is due in the courts next month.

Among the GPA demands are a basic r127-a-week allowance to cover expenses for inter-county players.

The GPA are lobbying the GAA for this allowance as a result of a motion passed at their AGM in November.

They have suffered a number of setbacks over the last few months with the closure of Culsport, their own magazine and the blundering over their Player of the Year award which initially went to Padraig Joyce but was then changed to Declan Meehan.

However, a meeting with the GAA president in Croke Park is recognised as a significant step forward for the Farrell-led association.

Meanwhile the GAA's Strategic Review report is due for public consumption next week.

Top GAA officials will be briefed on the wide raging report in Croke Park on Saturday week before its publication.

The committee, chaired by former GAA president Peter Quinn, has worked exhaustively over the last 16 months since McCague first suggested the project.

The report will contain a number of suggestions on ways to improve the Association.

One of the most radical proposals concerns the make up of the Central Council.

The report proposes that instead of independently elected Central Council delegates Ard Comhairle should be made up of county chairmen and chairmen of the other various GAA bodies.

CAPTION(S):

FIRST CHOICE, SECOND BEST: Galway's Padraig Joyce was at centre of GPA row; DELEGATE: Dessie Farrell; MEEHAN: Refused award originally given to Joyce
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2002
Words:514
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