The GAA has said it is "surprised and disappointed" at the CPA's decision to withdraw from the Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force.

The CPA had earlier announced the withdrawal of its representative, Michael Higgins, from the body, which is due to issue a report  this month, with a stinging rebuke, claiming the GAA was only interested in preserving the 'status quo' of the current inter-county football calendar rather than meaningful fixture reform that might benefit club players.

It also called the Task Force "a Trojan horse" to provide the illusion of willingness to change and accused the GAA of failing to consider all options in good faith.

The GAA has now responded, insisting that the CPA's voice was heard and that the Task Force "analysed submissions, proposals and comments across a wide range of issues as outlined in their Terms of Reference".

The GAA statement also pointed out that it had to take into consideration the "sometimes conflicting views and needs of the various stakeholders involved and the many individuals and groups that it consulted."

Ballygunner and former Waterford hurler Shane O'Sullivan ahead of the AIB GAA Munster Senior Hurling Club Championship Final

Speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of Sunday's Munster club hurling final, Ballygunner and recent Waterford star Shane O'Sullivan empathised with club players who often have to hang around waiting for the end of their county's All-Ireland Championship involvement before playing their own fixtures.

"You have to give the inter-county player every opportunity possible to excel, because that's what we’ve always done as a sport," he said.

"The gap then is to the club and the club is the cornerstone of the GAA and that’s what really matters. In short, there should 100% be a dedicated fixture list for club and county. Start of the year, done.

"We’re losing the transitional player from maybe 17 to 20 (years old). They might get upset or annoyed and go to America for a summer, which is great for one summer, they learn and experience things.

"But over time they might filter away from the GAA because of that single thing. I don’t think it’s right at any level that players can’t actually focus on a period of time when they want to perform to their best. They don’t really have a dedicated fixture time.

"It’s common sense but the challenge is how do you fit that in a calendar? I thought they had ideas about it but now obviously if they’ve (the CPA) pulled out, that shows that we’re still at loggerheads. So it’s a big challenge."

GAA statement in full

"The GAA is surprised and disappointed at the decision of the CPA to withdraw its representative Michael Higgins from the Fixture Calendar Review Task Force particularly at such an advanced stage and given that the work of the Task Force is nearing its completion.

"The group met for the first time on June 20 and consulted widely. It is understood that the Task Force analysed submissions, proposals and comments across a wide range of issues as outlined in their Terms of Reference.

"The Task Force was expected to develop proposals in a balanced way recognising and respecting the sometimes conflicting views and needs of the various stakeholders involved and the many individuals and groups that it consulted.

"It is understood that the CPA have been represented at all meetings of the Task Force and that they have fully engaged throughout.

"The work of the Task Force continues and will be completed later this month. At that stage, any proposals brought forward will be considered and decisions taken by the broader Association on the appropriate next steps."

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