what exactly does the GPA stand for and who is it supposed to benefit
It started, supposedly, as a player welfare body but it seems to have gotten a bit carried away with itself. It now seems to see itself as an equal partner with the GAA rather than a subset of it, hence the branding of certain events as joint productions between the GAA and the GPA.
The Hurricane Sandy business was one of its more cynical moves. They sent a squad to New York to do some work for a good cause, but by God they made sure there was a full TV camera crew there to cover it. When they returned to NY later to reap the rewards from the resulting goodwill they openly bragged about how they were going to raise a million bucks with their "star-studded" gala. I don't know if they made it to a million or not but if the GAA top brass was throwing around language like that the pitchforks-and-torches crowd would be out in force giving out about the "Grab All Association."
And don't get me started on the Hurling Super Elevens business. Coming up with an alternative sport with professional trappings and as part of a networking event with all the big shots and big donors, while a crumb is thrown from the table to the local GAA units who were never even notified that the whole thing was happening. The North American GAA board was completely ignored in that little episode, they only heard about it through the media like everyone else. Imagine the GPA waltzing into your county with big plans to promote hurling and the local county board doesn't get a look in... it's a bit like that.
I haven't been following them closely of late, but I still view them with a certain amount of suspicion. If they thought they could start a professional hurling league in America they probably would, but the only thing stopping them is their members live on the other side of the Atlantic.
What grinds my gears about the GPA is their smash-and-grab approach to the USA. They see the place as an ATM from which they can withdraw money to line their pockets, while the people actually promoting the games in the US are given table scraps at best and completely ignored at worst.