Sunday 20 October 2019

Offaly deny rising star Cian Johnson his senior 'dream'

Leaving Cert student Johnson left frustrated as local rule means he can only play for U-20 team

Cian Johnson
Cian Johnson
Cian Johnson of Offaly in action. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Rising Offaly star Cian Johnson has expressed his frustration at not being able to line out for his county's senior team in Sunday's Leinster SFC opener against Wicklow because of an internal rule that commits him to the U-20 competition instead.

The 18-year-old Leaving Cert student is being prevented from playing senior championship because of an Offaly County Board decision to retain their eligible players for the new U-20 grade instead.

However, the talented Ferbane man is the only player required by the senior management.

The new U-20 competition gets under way on Monday, May 28, the day after Offaly have a potential Leinster quarter-final with Dublin in Tullamore if they beat Wicklow on Sunday. It is the latest twist as the full impact of the new fixtures schedule is felt.

In this case it is Offaly themselves who are making the call as a general rule allows U-20s to play senior championship.

However, once they are involved with a senior championship squad, they can't subsequently play U-20.

In Kerry, David Clifford and Sean O'Shea have been released to play for the county's seniors this summer. Johnson has played all of Offaly's O'Byrne Cup games and five of their league games.

"I want to play for the seniors, it's always been my dream and the senior management want me to play for them but Offaly are just preventing me from doing that," said Johnson.

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"I was chatting with the Offaly chairman (Tommy Byrne) and his point was I can play for the Offaly seniors for the next 15 years. But you don't know what can happen with an injury or a loss of form, or a move out of the country. I want to take the opportunity while it's here."

Byrne said the decision was taken last September by the county board and re-affirmed last week. "It's a development issue. Let them develop with their own age group," said Byrne, explaining the policy.

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