Saturday 7 December 2019

Minors may be excluded from under 21 and senior county teams

Donegal's Paddy McBrearty played senior inter-county football while still eligible for the minor
grade in 2011. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Donegal's Paddy McBrearty played senior inter-county football while still eligible for the minor grade in 2011. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A recommendation is to be made to next year's GAA Congress preventing any player eligible for minor level from playing for an under 21 or senior inter-county team.

It is also proposed by the minor review work group, who have published an interim report on their findings, to put in measures to prevent players under the age of 17 from playing at any adult (over under 21) level.

A recent Congress motion has stopped the practice of players at under 17 level playing with adult teams in hurling and Gaelic football.

But if carried these measures will go a step further to, according to the report, "protect the player from physical injury, and reduce the number of teams for which players are eligible".

Other related motions on the cards for the 2015 Congress will prevent Leaving Cert and A-Level students from playing in adult club leagues or challenge games until their exams are finished.

And inter-county minor players will also be prevented from playing club league or challenge games until their involvement with their county teams are finished - if that motion is successful.

Preventing minors from playing at inter-county under 21 level is likely to be contentious, however, especially in less resourced counties.

At adult level, Donegal's Paddy McBrearty played senior inter-county football while still eligible for the minor grade in 2011 and Mickey Harte integrated Conor McKenna into his squad this year when Tyrone's minors were beaten.

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But under these proposals that would no longer be permitted.

Consultation by the group found that there is "very little support" for the Football Review Committee recommendation to change the upper age limit for minor to under 17 from any group consulted. The report suggested that "while the status quo (under 18 and under 21) was favoured, there was a view that an under 19 age grade should be explored.

Dublin and Kerry have recently expressed support for an under 19 grade.

The group have also proposed that secondary schools will have 'first call' on players who overlap with minor teams until their involvement with the school teams are at an end.

A proposal to prevent inter-county minor training commencing before the February mid-term break will also be made.

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