Tyrone bid to protect ‘crucial’ U21 championship

Tyrone will oppose proposals to scrap the Under-21 Championship, county chair Roisin Jordan said last night.
Tyrone bid to protect ‘crucial’ U21 championship

She told delegates at county convention in Garvaghey that the competition is crucial to the transition of players from minor to senior inter-county squads.

Last month, a discussion paper released by the GAA proposed a number of major changes to competition structures, including the scrapping of the U21 grade in football.

“Towards the later stages of this year Pauric Duffy, and Aogán Ó Fearghail sent out a discussion paper to look at player overtraining and burnout and the GAA fixture calendar to see how and where a better balance between inter-county and club fixtures could be established.

“Whilst they put a lot of hard work into their findings within the document, I do not agree with their proposal to discontinue with the U21 championship,” said Jordan.

“This group from 19-21 is so important to the future of our senior teams. I can’t stress enough that it is the crucial age to have these players involved, whether it be county or club.

“It is an age where many of our players can be lost to the association. In particular this year our County U21s were a great asset to our senior team and as you are all aware, more have been called up to trial over the next couple of months.

“The preparation for U21s gives the players a greater insight to what is expected from them when they go on to represent the county at senior level.”

Jordan also called on the Ulster Council to restructure the senior provincial championship and shorten its duration. “In regards to the inter-county fixtures calendar, I would urge Ulster to consider condensing their championship and thus free up more weekends for clubs.”

Jordan, who became the GAA’s first female chair a year ago, reflected on a historic first term in office. “It has indeed being a rewarding year. I didn’t realise how much of an impact the election of a female cathaoirleach would have within our association.

“As I travelled around the county and even further afield, I got a great welcome and a positive attitude. So I thank everyone for that.

“A few days after I was elected, an ex-chairman called at my house with some words of wisdom — ‘enjoy the honeymoon period because nothing can prepare you for the time and commitment that the job demands’. How right he was.”

Jordan highlighted the “unprecedented” resources being channelled into the recently launched Acadamh Thir Eoghain, which has replaced the former development squad system.

“My predecessor Ciaran (McLaughlin) requested an in-depth review on Coaching and Games Development within Tyrone. Ger O’Connor conducted the review and at our convention last year Ciaran produced a document of the findings and on which areas needed addressed.

“On foot of this, a sub-committee was set up to discuss the document and to look at a way forward. Our coaching officer Benny (Hurl) took on board the document and set up meetings with the county managers, coaches, schools and clubs to discuss the coaching structure within Tyrone.

“The development squads were rebranded to Acadamh Thír Eoghain and, indeed many of our former county players are now coaching our academy squads... with the unprecedented commitment of both physical and financial resources to Acadamh Thír Eoghan, we would expect to see silverware in the very near future.”

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