Wednesday 13 November 2019

Spring return for U-20 football championship set for debate

Special congress will be asked for a view on the timing of the U-20 Football Championship with a move back to a spring date an option. (stock photo)
Special congress will be asked for a view on the timing of the U-20 Football Championship with a move back to a spring date an option. (stock photo)
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Special Congress will be asked for a view on the timing of the U-20 Football Championship with a move back to a spring date an option.

At its last meeting in September, Central Council put off a decision until this weekend's gathering in Cork.

The U-20 Football Championship moved to summer dates in 2018 after being changed from an U-21 competition, primarily to avoid clashes with second- and third-level competitions.

It was touted as a development competition and had the stipulation in that first year that any player who was named on a 26-man senior championship squad could not subsequently play for an U-20 team.

With David Clifford and Sean O'Shea committed to the senior team in 2018, Kerry's prospects of an All-Ireland U-20 title win were damaged and Kildare were able to exploit that.

Similarly, Clifford and Diarmuid O'Connor were eligible for U-20 this year but again had to forego that opportunity. Some counties took strategic decisions not to allow U-20 players to join senior championship squads.

That was altered for this year so that only players who had actually played in a senior championship match could be precluded.

A number of developmental leagues were arranged this year, prior to a straight knock-out competition.

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But despite its developmental tag, it still led to clashes with club competitions with players routinely missing games with their clubs which was never the intended rationale of the switch.

Delegates will be asked to consider two proposals, the existing one where the competition starts on the last weekend in June and be played over six weekends before a conclusion on the Bank Holiday weekend in August.

Alternatively, a return to spring would see the U-20s in action on the second weekend in February with the final concluded six weeks later on the weekend of March 21/22 with a two-week break between the All-Ireland semi-finals and final.

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