Sunday 17 December 2017

Minor finals to lose star billing?

Connacht’s coaching and games development manager John Tobin. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht’s coaching and games development manager John Tobin. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The long-standing custom of playing All-Ireland minor finals as curtain-raisers to senior finals is to come under scrutiny ahead of the reduction of the age limit to U-17 next year.

Connacht have prepared proposals which would see a complete overhaul of the minor (U-17) grade, based on a three-tier format, ending with the All-Ireland finals all played on the same day in Croke Park.

The provincial football championships would continue as normal, followed by the eight finalists playing off in two round-robin groups of four to produce All-Ireland finalists.

Tier 1 would comprise the top eight, with the other two tiers made up the other 24 teams, depending on where they exited their provincial championships.

John Tobin, Connacht's coaching and games development manager, argues that the proposed system would greatly improve the games-to-training ratio.

"Our U-17s should be playing as many games as possible, rather than training endlessly for a few outings. If we just bring down the age limit by a year, we will merely be adding to the load on lads who are socially, emotionally and biologically less mature," he said.

Tobin believes that a tiered system giving minors from all counties the same number of games, leading to finals in Croke Park, would bring several benefits.

He accepts that removing the minor finals from their traditional slot ahead of the senior deciders would be contentious but argues that equality for all young players should be a priority, rather than continuing to indulge the stronger counties.

Irish Independent

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