Kerry against changes to U-21 and minor football grades
Plans to reform inter-county underage football competitions at Congress later this month have been dealt an early blow with Kerry County Board deciding to oppose changes to the minor and U-21 competitions.
A set of proposals drafted by director-general Páraic Duffy late last year, arising out of the various reports on fixtures, burnout and player welfare that have been produced over a nine-year period, could lead to wide-ranging changes for inter-county competition and free up considerable time for club activity near the end of the year.
One of the cornerstones of this plan was the reduction in the age of minor competition from under 18 to under 17.
This would have the effect of taking a large number of students sitting their Leaving Cert out of the equation, while the restriction on under 17 players playing adult football would reduce club fixtures being delayed while minors were involved with their county teams.
A move from an U-21 spring competition to an U-20 summer competition that excluded any player named on an inter-county senior championship squad is also being proposed to help alleviate burnout on players in the 18- to 21-year-old bracket.
Kerry's Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) were in favour of supporting change but the county's coaching officer and minor selector Eamonn Whelan had a different view.
"If the U-17 competition is introduced, you will find U-16s will be caught up in the Junior Cert, so it will make no difference with regard to running a competition that would be almost exam-free," he said.
"The other aspect that needs consideration is that if the age is dropped to U-17, then an 18-year-old will not be eligible to play any county football, as the new U-20 competition is for those under 20 but over 18."
However, the idea of recalibrating the grades is to free under 18 players from the pressure of doing exams and playing inter-county games.
The vote to support change was lost, 40-17.
Kerry will support the introduction of the mark being proposed by the Standing Rules Committee headed by Jarlath Burns but are against Armagh's proposal that allows players from stronger hurling counties to transfer without having to move clubs.
Elsewhere, Ballyboden St Enda's are set to appeal the straight red card shown to midfielder Declan O'Mahony ahead of their All-Ireland final clash with Castlebar Mitchels on St Patrick's Day.
An automatic one-match ban makes the influential No 9 unavailable for the decider.
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