By Jackie Cahill
Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey has warned of increased levels of burnout in young players following the decision to change the age of the minor intercounty grade to U17 from 2018.
And Carey believes that he would not have featured on Kilkenny’s All-Ireland minor winning team in 1988 if the U17 rule applied then.
Carey explained that an extra year’s development from 17 to 18 years of age allowed him enough time to catch up physically with his peers.
And Carey says that lowering the age limit from U18 will result in bigger problems for young players thrust into development squads earlier than he believes they should be.
Carey also warned that some young players will drop out of Gaelic Games because of the potential to win too much, too soon.
He explained: “A lot of sports are promoting All-Ireland titles too young.
“Go back to my own sport of handball – I’ve seen lads winning U13, U14 and then giving it up.
“It’s too much success, too early. Secondly, there’s a massive difference now between 17 and 18.
“You have development squads all over the country and now that’s all going to start a year earlier, with lads starting on weights and nutrition.
“I’m not sure how overly well thought out of all of this is.
“You can’t get burned out by games but you can by the amount of physical work you do.
“You’ll now see young players, instead of being physically strong and having that extra year between 17 and 18, you’ll see them nearly at that level at 16 and 17.
“That’s wrong in my opinion and guys will have to be physically stronger and faster at a younger age.
“If this new rule was in when I was playing, I would not have played minor for Kilkenny. It took me that extra year to 18 to get me physically bigger than what i was.”
But Carey is pleased that Sky Sports will remain a contender in the GAA TV rights market after a free-to-air motion was defeated.
He explained: “I’m happy with Sky. Players deserve worldwide recognition and the promotion Sky can give them.”