The GPA have hit out at GAA Director General Tom Ryan, claiming he had portrayed the inter-county game as the association's "problem child" in the wake of the release of the GAA's annual report. 

Following the publication of yesterday's report, which outlined record annual revenue of €73.9m for 2019, Ryan issued warnings about the "alarming" increase in the costs of preparing inter-county teams last year, saying these costs were "unsustainable".

The GPA released a statement this evening in response to the comments, saying it was "disappointing" that "so-called unsustainable costs" of inter-county games were dominating the GAA's attention. 

"It is disappointing for our members, that the inter-county game to which they dedicate 31 hours of their time each week, as they proudly represent their counties, is once again being presented as the GAA's problem child," wrote GPA CEO Paul Flynn.

"Far from being a problem child, inter-county games, and the players that make them the spectacle that they are, continue to be the jewel in the crown of the GAA.

GAA Director General Tom Ryan

"Therefore, in the midst of the record-breaking revenues of €73.9 million reported for 2019 (up 16%), which are primarily and overwhelmingly generated off the inter county games, it is disappointing to see that it is the so-called unsustainable costs of those inter-county games commanding such a share of the GAA’s attention."

Flynn went on to defend and extol the inter-county game, citing its revenue generating capacity and its worth in enabling the GAA to compete with soccer and rugby for the public's attention. 

"Our inter-county games are the revenue generating machine that allows the GAA to compete with rugby, soccer and other sports for hearts and minds of the Irish public. 

"Our inter-county games are the flagship promotional and developmental tool that keeps the GAA in the news and journalists, pundits, administrators, coaches, physios and all the other professionals working within the inter county games in jobs.

"We have seen this ploy of painting inter county games in a negative light used consistently to keep players down, to make them feel like they are lucky to be involved in the games. 

"Make no mistake, the players, past and present, are proud to represent their counties at the highest level but the GAA is also lucky to have those players who give so much of themselves, often to their own detriment, to allow it generate the revenues that keeps the association afloat.

"Inter-county fixtures generate a total economic impact of €390 million annually, supporting 3,600 jobs and directly contributing over €40 million to the exchequer. This at a time when many of our players can barely make ends meet and in many cases cannot.

"It is our view that the role of inter county games and our players to the overall health of the GAA, as evidenced in the Annual Report, needed to be acknowledged."