Wednesday 7 December 2016

Memo to meddlers: leave the U-21 championships alone

Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30

Limerick's Cian Lynch celebrates his side's victory over Cork in a thrilling Munster U21 final
Limerick's Cian Lynch celebrates his side's victory over Cork in a thrilling Munster U21 final

A crowd of 14,311 attended the Clare-Limerick Munster U-21 hurling final in Ennis last Thursday evening, which was considerably more than the turnout at many senior championship games this year, certainly in football.

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Even in hurling, it beat the attendances at the Offaly-Laois and Galway-Laois Leinster games by over 5,500 in each case and was only 686 behind the crowd at the Galway-Dublin replay.

A few weeks ago, the Wexford-Kilkenny Leinster U-21 final attracted 8,000 to Innovate Wexford Park for a midweek game.

The Munster and Leinster finals were shown live on TG4, but supporters were still sufficiently enthused to turn up in large numbers. There's nothing new in that, since the U-21 hurling championships, in particular, have long been very popular among the public.

Yet, despite that, several very influential figures within the GAA want the U-21 grade either scrapped or merged with minor in a new U-19 competition. U-21 is being blamed for burnout, you see, as if it were solely responsible for loading unreasonable pressures on young players.

The Limerick and Clare teams, complete with senior stars Cian Lynch and Shane O'Donnell, didn't look as if they were on the verge of exhaustion last Wednesday as they served up a superb contest.

Memo to the meddlers: leave the U-21s alone. They are a major plus on the competition landscape and should be treated as such.

Irish Independent

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