U20 Football rule is lunacy, says Premier boss Liam Cahill

U20 Football rule is lunacy, says Premier boss Liam Cahill
Tipperary U20 hurling manager Liam Cahill

Tipperary U20 hurling manager Liam Cahill has described as “lunacy” the rule which prevents young footballers from playing U20 and senior championship in the one summer, insisting that there is no threat of burnout to the three members of his panel who are also part of Liam Sheedy’s set-up.

Tipperary hurlers Paddy Cadell, Jerome Cahill, and Jake Morris have spent the year doubling up at U20 and senior level, with Morris featuring in each one of the county’s seven games en route to the All-Ireland senior final, while Cahill was introduced as a sub in the Munster final defeat to Limerick and All-Ireland quarter-final win over Laois.

Having lined out in last weekend’s All-Ireland U20 semi-final mauling of Wexford, the three players will spend the next week and a half in camp with the seniors before a six-day turnaround to their All-Ireland U20 final against Cork, which was yesterday confirmed for LIT Gaelic Grounds on Saturday, August 24 (6pm throw-in).

Cahill sees no issue with emerging talents being part of their county’s U20 and senior set-ups in the one season and cannot understand why there is a rule in place which discriminates against footballers but allows hurlers free rein.

“I don’t know where that rule came out of. It is unfair on footballers. These players should be allowed to play at their own grade. I don’t think it’s a case that playing senior and U20 in the one year is unmanageable. It can be managed,” Cahill stressed.

“You are seeing it here with ourselves. You are seeing with counties where there is an overlap between senior and U20 that we are able to handle it.

I would be fairly annoyed if I was a U20 inter-county football manager and three or four of my best players couldn’t play with me as a result of that rule. I think it is lunacy.

The Tipperary U20 boss added: “If they are in a senior inter-county environment, you only get them back for the matches and the session or two before the championship [games]. In our case, Liam Sheedy has sent them back in absolutely top-class condition so we don’t have to worry about their physicality or their S&C work, that is just done. They come back to you ready to go.

If relationships are good in that respect, I don’t see it being an issue. I wouldn’t think there is a danger of burnout. The rule is a strange one. I am glad it is not implemented into the U20 hurling structure.

Following a talent academy review, a group commissioned by GAA president John Horan is expected to recommend U19 replace both U17 and U20 and become the only inter-county underage grade. Cahill, who has managed Tipperary to All-Ireland minor and U21 titles, is not in favour of such a move.

“I would be concerned about it from the perspective of a 19-year old when he is finished with U19 and he is not yet ready to step up to senior. As you can see, unless you are one of the elite, a Jake Morris or a Kyle Hayes, and you come through quickly and are an exceptional player, the majority of these players are 22/23 before they step up to senior.

“Between 19 and 21/22 is too long to leave these players out there and for them not to be involved in an inter-county set-up. We are possibly going to lose a lot of potential young players who are late developers if they move it back to U19.”

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