No one seemed to think of chaos to club under-16 when they changed county minor 4 years ago

No one seemed to think of chaos to club under-16 when they changed county minor

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Decisions were made at GAA congress over the last few years to replace the inter-county under-21 and under-18 competitions with under-20 and under-17 grades. The changes would be felt for the first time this year.


The reason the adjustments came into place was to tackle the issue of player burnout - a prominent issue at the time.

For example, an 18-year-old could have been playing for his county and club at under-18 level and his club at adult level.

The same went for the under-21 age group, where a player would conceivably have been playing for their county under-21s and senior teams as well as their club and college teams at the same time.

So that was when the GAA dropped the grades a year.


The decisions were widely criticised at the time. Kilkenny hurler Richie Power was vocal with his frustrations surrounding the move. He felt that under-21 was the perfect age group for players to develop physically and mentally for the senior challenge ahead of them.

He warned that a player isn't ready to make this transition at 20, and that's fairly clear. On top of that, though, there is the matter that 20-year-old county players would still be good enough to play for their club and college teams anyway so the changes were a little bit pointless in that regard.

All they would be doing is depriving a bunch of 20-year-olds and 18-year-olds, who might not have been strong enough or big enough the year previous, a chance of representing their county at underage level.


These inter-county minor (under-17) games have been taking place over the last few weeks across the provinces, and they have even been taking place at club level in some counties. This came after a small minority of county boards followed suit and ditched the under-18 model.

That means these 18-year-olds are already senior. Gone are the days of the late developer.

Problems are also arising where the counties didn't change. When the age-grade was under-18, it would have taken a very special under-16 player to make their county team. Now these 16-year-olds are the first year minors and their clubs' under-16 teams are being hurt as a result.

This was avoided in previous years when the under-18 grading existed because the club under-18 championship generally doesn't begin until later in the year.


In Armagh for example, a club game couldn't go ahead last week because of the number of players who were involved with the county under-17 team.

Meanwhile, former Down footballer Benny Coulter was widely backed when he claimed that a whole host of these under-16 players now aren't playing for their clubs at all.

Another issue arose in Cavan and Derry's clash which went to extra-time on Saturday. The game saw a host of 16 and 17-year-olds play more than 105 minutes of football. It's a little early for that.


It was never going to be as smooth as they'd planned...