Tuesday 27 June 2017

Winter training ban 'damages hurling's tier-two sides'

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan.
Former GAA president Nickey Brennan.
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Scrapping the winter training ban at underage level in weaker hurling counties is being recommended by a high-powered Leinster review group.

It proposes that U-21 and minor squads in those counties be allowed to commence training when they wish in order to give them a better chance of competing with elite opposition.

There would be no change for senior squads, whose return to training is linked to their exit date from the All-Ireland championship.

Under existing rules, county minor squads are not allowed to train until January 1, while March 1 is the U-21 return date.

However, the Leinster review group, which includes former GAA president Nickey Brennan and Kilkenny trainer Michael Dempsey, believes that those dates place weaker counties at a disadvantage as they don't have as many players in high-grade third- and second-level college competitions.

Disadvantage

Their proposal follows an analysis of a wide range of activity in Offaly, Laois, Carlow and Westmeath.

"The closed season is a significant constraint for the four counties. They are at a major disadvantage with tier one counties in that very few of their U-21 and minor players are actively engaged in third- and second-level competitions," notes the report.

"This means that due to the current regulations regarding the commencement of training for U-21 and minor teams, many of their counterparts in tier one would have been actively involved with their school/college team in the months prior to the date when formal training is allowed to begin."

The review group's proposal has emerged as part of an analysis of how a €1 million hurling development fund for five weaker hurling counties (four Leinster plus Antrim) is being spent.

Irish Independent

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