Shane Curran hits out at 'box-ticking' nature of new U-20 competition
Former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran has hit out at the timing of the new U-20 football competition and has suggested the GAA is just "ticking a box" with the way it is being run.
The U-20 competition replaces the old U-21 championship and is being scheduled for June and July with the final on the Bank Holiday weekend in August.
Curran is over the Roscommon team and is frustrated with how, he says, the competition is being "pigeon-holed". The prohibition on challenge matches from Thursday to Sunday inclusive, something that applies to all inter-county games, is also impacting heavily on preparations, he contended.
Curran said the shelving of an U-20 game between his Roscommon team and Cork last Sunday was the "straw that broke the camel's back" as far as he was concerned.
"The Cork manager Sean Hayes got a phone call on Saturday evening to say that game wasn't being approved," he said.
"We're expected to bring players from Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway to matches arranged only on those days (Monday to Wednesday) while they are stuck in the middle of exams.
"There's no equity to it either. It's known that counties are flouting this left, right and centre," added Curran who said he knows of two U-20 challenge games that went ahead on Sunday at the same time as their own game with Cork was pulled because the counties involved did not go through official channels.
Curran said he can't believe that a competition which will feature so many Leaving Cert students is starting just a few days before the State exams commence while so many others are immersed in third-level exams in the lead-up, he claimed.
"The competition throws in for us (Connacht) on June 2. The Leaving Cert starts four days later. The Connacht competition is crazily scheduled. It's over in two weeks. So you have three rounds, effectively, in two weeks, June 2, 9 and 17. It's being run to tick a box, 'Put it in there, give them games and get it over with'."
Curran says Roscommon have had to press ahead without some of their Leaving Cert students after discussions with parents because the extra pressure "wouldn't be fair on them".
The new competition is essentially for developmental purposes to involve players outside the reach of the county squad.
Curran argues that it would make more sense to put the start back by two or three weeks because there will be little or no club activity until the end of the summer anyway with counties suspending their programmes as players head away for the summer.
"A lot of players have decided to go to the US. There was no need to run the competition (U-20) at this time, taking into account that there are few club competitions or championships going on until the end of August in any county."
Curran, who has been a prominent member of the Club Players' Association, claims his club side, St Brigid's, have just three matches over the next four months.