September 29, 2016
Some months ago, I informed our board and officers of my intention to step down as CEO. I believe this to be the optimum time to do so as the organisation is well positioned now to introduce a change of leadership. The GPA provides a vital service to our players and games, has exceptionally talented and passionate people involved at all levels, has a strong governance model and appropriate structures in place, is well resourced through the recent agreement with the GAA, and is ready for the next new and exciting phase of its evolution. Working with our board, a succession plan has been in place and a formal process has now commenced to find a replacement.
Throughout my life I feel extremely grateful to have been involved in gaelic games. I have enjoyed a long career with my club Na Fianna, an underage and senior county career with Dublin football which has spanned three decades and have been involved in coaching of younger Dublin players at different age levels over the past decade.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in a career so intrinsically linked to the sports I love. It has been a tremendous honour to have led the GPA and to have served our county players over the past decade and half. We are all extremely proud of what has been achieved in that time and I feel truly privileged to have witnessed the growth, development and success of the organisation in that period.
There are many who have contributed significantly along the way. I am eternally grateful to all those individuals who understood what was possible, what could be achieved and had the courage of their convictions. I am humbled to have worked beside many fearless, talented and dedicated players; from our co-founders-whose vision at the start provided the impetus to overcome the many challenges we faced; to our current officers and board, a new and authentic generation of leaders, who have taken responsibility for the organisation's future strategic growth and development, to the countless individuals in between- whose determination and resilience in making a real difference in the lives of others has resulted in a greatly improved environment for all our county players from the most modest of beginnings.
I particularly want to pay tribute to our former Chairman, Donal Og Cusack, for his unique and outstanding contribution to the players' body over the years. I would like to acknowledge all GPA staff members who have provided our players with the unconditional love and support required to enable so many to flourish and prosper in ways that were unimaginable in times past. I also wish to thank the various GPA groups and volunteers in supporting our work in many different ways and to our many supporters at home and overseas for their ongoing commitment to player development. I want to pay tribute to the vast numbers of current and former players whose input and guidance to the organisation has been so important. I would like to sincerely thank the many GPA leaders in squads today and in the past for their leadership and commitment to the vision of shaping a better future for all our players.
I want to acknowledge the GAA for their support - the various Presidents, committee and staff members whom we have worked closely with over the years. In so doing it is important to recognise the Director General, Paraic Duffy, and thank him for his resolute support of player welfare and his genuine and honest approach in dealing with players at all times.
Finally, I want to sincerely thank our players for their immense dedication to the games and their continued prosperity. I have been continuously inspired by your relentless pursuit of excellence and unwavering commitment to club, county and community. I encourage each of you to be aware of the rest of your life outside of the game and to ensure you can operate at your personal best off the field in same manner as you strive to do so on it.
To bring the right balance to various aspects of your life, to spend time in developing a greater understanding of who you are separate from your identity as an athlete and in exploring your own purpose in life is a vital investment in your future and in that of those closest to you. As has been the case for so many players, the GPA is and will be there to support you.
This quote from renowned scholar, John Gardiner, is something I strive (and sometimes struggle) to live by and is possibly worth considering carefully by all our players, current, former and future...
"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account."
I want to thank everyone who made such an important contribution to the GPA and the lives of our players. I would like to thank my family, friends, colleagues and the many others who have encouraged and supported me to do this job to the best of my ability. I owe you all a great debt of gratitude.
Click here to read the GPA's statement on the stepping down of GPA CEO Dessie Farrell.