GAA considering plans to introduce an Under-18 GAA All Ireland Championship
Top young players who were set to miss out on a chance to represent their counties due to a change in the football and hurling minor age limit can look forward to a reprieve.
Congress voted last weekend to reduce the minor age limit from 18 to 17 years from 2018, which presented an anomaly that is now to be addressed.
It meant that boys born in 2000 would have no opportunity to play at county minor level unless they were selected as 17-year-olds in 2017.
However, since the majority of minors have traditionally been 18-year-olds, hundreds would be denied the chance to play at county level as the grade will cater for U-17s only from 2018 on.
The Irish Independent understands that plans are being considered to stage a special one-off All-Ireland U-18 championships in 2018 to cater for the dispossessed 'class of 2000'.
It's unlikely to start until late July in order to give players some weeks to train after they complete the Leaving Cert. Reducing the pressure on students in their Leaving Cert year was the principal reason for re-grading minor to U-17. The proposal to reduce the minor age limit scraped through Congress on a 68-32 percentage vote (it needed a two-thirds majority) on Friday night but disquiet emerged over the 'class of 2000', who stood to lose out under the new arrangement.
It would have been very disappointing for them to miss the opportunity to represent their counties because of a change of age limit but that's now most unlikely to happen.
It's understood that proposals for the one-off U-18 championships will be put to Central Council in a few weeks' time.
The next big question is when the U-18 finals will be played.
It's unlikely that they will feature as curtain-raisers to the All-Ireland finals as U-17 will become the official minor grade in 2018 and are expected to continue to enjoy prime billing ahead of the main events on the first and third Sundays in September.