Wednesday 21 February 2018

Young stars need protection from expectation

Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

The internet jokers who last Wednesday flooded websites with gags about the necessity for Longford GAA to be divided in order to prevent the county becoming too strong were not really that funny.

Of course, the references were prompted by the Longford U-21s' victory over a highly-rated Dublin team in the Leinster championship at Parnell Park.

Sport is all about uncertainty; otherwise it would be just another boring aspect of life and, while Dublin's defeat could rightly be described as sensational, it is by no means a disaster.

The performances of players at that age tends to be volatile and can range from brilliant to mediocre from game to game.

Ciaran Kilkenny, the most touted young talent in the country in recent times, is a good example as he played a relatively modest role against Longford but showed his class with a vengeance in yesterday's senior game.

But what should people expect of a prodigious young talent like him? Surely not heroics after heroics.

Young footballers, no matter how talented, still have to learn their trade. Many former bright young players have fallen by the wayside over the years because they were left to their own devices as teenagers with little or no guidance or protection from team mentors.

Even some county team managers can be impatient if a 'star minor' does not immediately set the world on fire at senior level.

Kilkenny will undoubtedly be a great player for Dublin and fans and mentors should be prepared to take inexperience into consideration. I have no doubt Jim Gavin will ensure that happens in this case.

Irish Independent

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