Friday 9 December 2016

Young football talents set for different path than hurlers

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey is a recent example of a footballers who made the senior grade before the age of 20. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey is a recent example of a footballers who made the senior grade before the age of 20. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Young hurlers and footballers will be treated differently if a plan to change the age limit for underage eligibility is accepted.

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Congress will consider a proposal next month to replace the U-21 football championship with an U-20 competition which would be run off in June and July, starting in 2018.

The U-21 hurling championship would continue in its present format. That includes allowing players in the grade to play on senior teams.

However, eligibility for the U-20 football championship would be restricted to players who had not featured on any senior championship team list earlier in the year.

Effectively, it means that ultra-talented young footballers who were on senior panels could not play in the U-20 grade.

Examples

Dublin's Jack McCaffrey and Ciaran Kilkenny and Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor are recent examples of footballers who made the senior grade before the age of 20. Under the proposed change they couldn't play in the U-20 championship, whereas their equivalents in hurling would continue to be eligible for U-21.

Galway's Conor Whelan made his senior hurling championship debut last July at the age of 18 and later played for the U-21s.

Paraic Duffy's discussion paper on player burnout proposed scrapping the U-21 football championship altogether.

It met with widespread with opposition among counties, leading to a change of direction, which was outlined to Central Council on Saturday.

Intriguingly, the U-20 football proposal features a novel way of settling games which finish level after extra-time.

A free-taking shoot-out would be used to decide the winners, although precise details have yet to be worked out.

Congress will also vote next month on whether to reduce the minor age limit to 17 years in hurling and football.

Irish Independent

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