Sunday 8 December 2019

Minor and U-21 age limits changed but no move on football championships

The GAA last night made a historic change for young footballers when they lowered the age limit for the minor and U-21 football championships. (Stock picture)
The GAA last night made a historic change for young footballers when they lowered the age limit for the minor and U-21 football championships. (Stock picture)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA last night made a historic change for young footballers when they lowered the age limit for the minor and U-21 football championships.

Starting in 2017, the minor age limit will be 17 rather than 18 years, while U-21 will be replaced by U-20. The 18-year limit has been in place for nearly 90 years but was voted out at Congress in Mount Wolseley, Carlow last night.

It was all very close, scraping to a the required two-thirds majority by a tiny margin (68-32 per cent) after a lengthy debate.

The call for change was led by director-general Paraic Duffy, who urged delegates to support the move as part of a comprehensive suite of proposals, designed to reduce the impact of burnout among young players.

Cork and Kilkenny were among the counties that spoke against it, arguing that the change wasn't necessary.

The proposal to replace U-21 with U-20 was also very close, eventually carried on a 69-31 majority.

Three plans to change the format of the All-Ireland senior football championships were zapped.

A proposal by Central Council didn't even make it to Congress after being withdrawn, while motions from Roscommon and Carlow were comprehensively beaten. Central Council devised the controversial plan to introduce a 'B' championship for Division 4 counties but following strong opposition from various quarters in recent weeks, it was decided yesterday not to put it before Congress.

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Roscommon called for the introduction of a second tier championship for 16 counties, which would leave only the top 16 competing for the Sam Maguire Cup. The proposal was beaten on an 84-16 percentage.

Carlow wanted counties divided into four tiers, contending that it would lead to greater competitiveness. And while they accepted that their plan represented a start only, they felt it was a step in the right direction. However, it was beaten 60-40.

GPA representative Dermot Earley earlier called on delegates not to support any proposal that involved a second-tier competition, pointing out that players were "passionately opposed" to the concept.

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