Tuesday 15 October 2019

U-20 football may revert back to spring in 2020

The change to summer was designed to relieve the congestion in the earlier part of the year and to reduce the pressure on players caught between so many teams. Stock photo: Sportsfile
The change to summer was designed to relieve the congestion in the earlier part of the year and to reduce the pressure on players caught between so many teams. Stock photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA are to look at restoring the inter-county U-20 (formerly U-21) football championship to its more familiar January-March slot as part of ongoing change to the calendar.

At a meeting of county board chairpersons in Croke Park over the weekend one of the items discussed was the possibility of reverting to the old window.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) will now examine further the potential for change with a Special Congress later in the year, which will deal with a second-tier football championship proposal, a likely port of call.

The U-21 championship became the U-20 championship last year and was played from the end of May through to the All-Ireland final on the bank holiday weekend in August, which Kildare won when they beat Mayo.

The change to summer was designed to relieve the congestion in the earlier part of the year and to reduce the pressure on players caught between so many teams.

But the summer scheduling ran into a host of different problems, including club schedules and Leaving Cert preparations.

Further change this year will see the U-20 competition run off as a knock-out championship, preceded by a cross-country development league with no challenge matches permitted and will have much the same dates as 2018.

Players will be able to play with their senior inter-county teams in championship matches provided their U-20 interests are over. Last year they had to play one or the other.

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But if a January-March U-20 championship got the green light counties would have to choose between this competition and the league for their players.

Clashes with second and third-level competitions would be inevitable - many 18-year-olds feature on secondary-school teams but county chairmen were of the view that this would be better than conflict with clubs over absence from league matches.

U-20 hurling will remain a summer competition, just as the U-21 championship has been.

Meanwhile, the criteria for training camp clearance from Croke Park has been set, the meeting heard.

It has yet to be approved by Central Council but only counties who have made their players available for four weekends of club activity in April will be considered once the league finals have been played and it falls outside the permitted 10-day window prior to championship.

Beyond this year CCCC is also proposing that camps outside the country will not be cleared while a restriction of three days will also be proposed from 2020 onwards, a window that is felt better aligns with the amateur status.

The rule was relaxed at Congress last month. Technically counties have limited windows to travel but most were able to subvert the rule.

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