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29th Apr 2023

Derry star an unfair victim of ridiculous u20 rule

Lee Costello


This leaves a lot to be desired.

Derry’s rising star Lachlan Murray has become an unfair victim of the ridiculous rule that prohibits players from playing at both u20 level and senior level within seven days.

Down beat Derry in the u20 Ulster championship final on Wednesday, but the Oakleaf county were without two of their biggest players, Murray and Eoin McEvoy.

Having missed that Ulster final, McEvoy, at least, had the consolation of playing the full senior semi-final on Sunday. As for Murray, he missed that game on Wednesday, and for what? To play just two minutes of injury time against Monaghan.

McEvoy has burst onto the scene for Rory Gallagher’s side, forcing himself straight into the starting line-up as a full back, a move which allowed Brendan Rodgers to move into midfield.

Murray had a brilliant McKenna Cup campaign but has been used more as an impact sub throughout the league and championship so far, with Gallagher opting for the more experienced Benny Heron and Niall Loughlin.


This transpired in the young Desertmartin attacker getting caught between two stools – and reducing him to very little football at all. You would have thought, knowing that he was only going to have a bit-part role on Saturday, that Gallagher may have let him play during the week.

The sharp shooter would no doubt have had a big say in the Ulster u20 final against Down, who did decide to use their u20 players knowing that it would rule them out of the senior set-up this weekend.

That being said, the fact that he’s been forced into these circumstances in the first place is ridiculous. Conor Laverty who manages Down at both senior and u20 level hit out at the nonsensical ruling after their Ulster triumph in midweek.

“I think it’s a disgrace that the young fellas aren’t able to play”, said Laverty.

“Lads can play in competitions earlier in the year night after night, come to training and whenever it comes to the biggest days of the year that they’ve worked hard for all their lives, the young lads are deprived. We’re depriving our most talented players of that chance.


“We should have some lads playing last weekend and playing tonight and playing at the weekend. It’s very unfortunate for them.

“I feel that the GAA have put in a rule there that they haven’t put much thought into and it’s really disappointing. It was a very hard decision and we asked the players themselves and took their thoughts into consideration.

“Only one of the lads would have been in the mix to start. We felt we had to be true to them and maybe let them play out their last time at underage.”

The difference between the Down and Derry players who have been affected by this is that the Down ones at least have an Ulster medal in their pockets to show for a season’s work.

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