The Gaelic Players Association has made two major new appointments with Mayo footballer Tom Parsons taking over as the new Chairman and Professor Brian MacCraith as the new Chairman of the GPA Board of Directors.

Parsons is one of the country’s most highly respected players and has served as the GPA National Executive Committee Secretary since February 2019.

He takes over the position from Seamus Hickey who has stepped down after five years in the role.

During his tenure, Hickey played an integral role in the leadership of the GPA. He was a key player in negotiating a funding agreement with the GAA in 2016 which allowed the GPA to expand its supports and services for players and former players.

Wexford hurler Matt O’Hanlon will take up the role of Secretary, vacated by Parsons.  Both Parsons and O’Hanlon bring with them the practical advantage of being current players as well as holding high-level positions within Jacobs Engineering and Google respectively.

“I am both delighted and honoured to have been chosen by my fellow players to represent them as their Chairman,” said Parsons.

“I believe strongly in the work the GPA does on behalf of its members and look forward to working closely with the NEC, the Board and the GPA staff to meet the challenges faced by the modern inter-county player, who gives so much to our games and communities across Ireland.”

“I am also extremely grateful for the work Seamus Hickey has put in during his tenure as Chairman.  He has set a superb example and very high standards which I will now work towards building on to drive the GPA forward in what is a much-changed environment both within our games and globally given the events that have transpired in 2020.”

“It’s a privilege to have been entrusted with the position of GPA Secretary by my fellow players,” added O’Hanlon.

“I look forward to working closely with our new Chairman and all the team as we continue to represent the voice of inter-county players, support their development and protect their welfare.” 

The appointment of Professor Brian MacCraith as the new Chairman of its Board of Directors is another coup.  MacCraith recently finished a very successful 10-year term as President of Dublin City University where he was a very active supporter of the development and growth of sport with a particular emphasis on Gaelic games.

During this time, DCU developed significantly in terms of scale, footprint, and international reputation. It became Ireland’s fastest-growing university, rising to more than 18,250 students in 2020, and added three campuses (DCU St. Patrick’s Campus, DCU All Hallows Campus, and DCU Alpha, the university’s Innovation Campus) in the North Dublin region.

“I am very pleased to take on this role with the GPA,” he said. “Gaelic games are an essential element of Irish culture, and I look forward to assisting the association in terms of player welfare, development, strategy implementation and organisational governance.”

Parsons and GPA CEO Paul Flynn came up against each other on the field of play at numerous stages during Dublin and Mayo’s fierce rivalry at the top of Gaelic Football but now they will be working as teammates.

“Tom and Matt are both hugely respected by all within the GAA community and have been highly influential in their roles on the NEC to date.  I look forward to working alongside both and wish them well in their new positions,” he said.

“I want to say a particular word of thanks to Seamus Hickey.  I am delighted that Seamus will be continuing as part of the NEC.  He has shown and continues to show, an unwavering commitment and integrity working on behalf of the fellow players, at all times putting them first.

“The GPA is delighted to have Brian MacCraith join the GPA Board as our Chairman. Brian’s experience and wealth of knowledge will be a great addition to our Board, and we are looking forward to working with him to continue to drive governance standards and execute on our strategic priorities.

“I would also like to take the opportunity, on behalf of all the GPA members, to thank Fergus Clancy for the stellar work he completed at the GPA. The leadership shown by Fergus has been invaluable to the team at the GPA, and we wish him every success in the future.”