CORK clubs have expressed concern at the prospect of players walking away from the GAA over the absence of a loss-of-wages scheme in the event of an injury.
It has been removed for the 2021 season, when it eventually gets up and running, because there’s no money in the kitty, delegates were informed at a recent county board meeting.
And Cork are calling on other counties to row in behind their attempts to force a re-think this year.
Central Council delegate Tracey Kennedy said the scheme will still pay out for injuries.
“I raised the issue at our meeting before Congress and it was also raised at Congress itself.
“Dermot Ryan explained that it was a pause not a permanent change and was being kept under review.
“The scheme is actually a fund rather than insurance and can only pay out what it takes in.
“It has been running a deficit and Central Council has said that can’t continue.
“He added that it must prioritise what it can continue and the decision has been made to prioritise injuries now instead of all other outlays, including loss of earnings.
“I will raise it again at the next meeting, but we need to get a few more on side because nobody else raised it.
“No one supported my query and no one commented on it. We need to get the support of other counties,” she said.
Peter Hogan, the Carrigtwohill delegate, outlined the background. “The first inkling we got came last December when there was a proposal about it, but it seemed to go unnoticed with clubs.
“Then on February 8 we got an email to say loss of earnings would not be covered and now it’s a pause.
“They’re also saying they’re hoping to restore the loss of earnings at the end of 2021 and also bring in an enhanced scheme.
“But, all that is dependent on the fund being in surplus and they finish with the word ‘hopefully’, so there is no guarantee that it will be in for 2022.
“I understand about revenue and the losses Croke Park have incurred over nearly a year at this stage.
“But, I am hugely concerned not only for my own club, but clubs around the country that players may have to opt out at the start of the season because loss of earnings isn’t covered in the event of an injury.
“I’ve spoken to other clubs and they have the same concerns as myself.
“All we can hope for is money does come from somewhere during the year.
“The players are the most important people in the association and while they want games, they also proper cover.”
Support came from Kilworth’s Liam Kenny who said he agreed with Hogan, but believed Cork should be more forceful.
“To be fair, a lot of clubs may have missed this because it was embedded into the correspondence.
“I don’t think this is a small issue at all. I think it is a huge issue, especially given the times we’re living in and the financial strain that’s going to be on a lot of young players with young families.
“I think it’s something that we should back strongly and be united against this.
“It’s a very easy association to run without players and player-welfare has to be at the heart of it,” Kenny commented.
Chairman Marc Sheehan also added his support. “I believe we are all at one in the seriousness of this change and while we can understand the landscape in which it has happened it really is a fundamental issue for the association.
“I would agree that we need to take this forward to the highest level in the association and to have it rectified if at all possible. It is a significant priority,” he said.
John O’Flynn (Freemount) suggested some form of insurance policy should be made available to players.
“It may be more cost-effective to do it in a group scheme and players would then have an option to take up insurance to cover loss of earnings,” he stated.