GAA age grade group tables new tweaks to break impasse

No player should have to play an adult and U18 game within 60 hours of each other and the county’s competitions control committee must adhere to the policy.
GAA age grade group tables new tweaks to break impasse

MINOR MATTER: Douglas players Cathal McSweeney, Charlie Lucas, Neville O'Leary, Luis Dwane Fogarty, Joe Hartnett, Robert Hanley and Mikey O'Connell with their Rebel Og Award for the club's Premier 1 MFC and MHC double. 

Following weeks of consultation with counties, the GAA’s age grade task force has made allowances for clubs to field 18-year-olds in their adult teams should counties return to U18 as the minor grade.

While the body’s proposed national policy calls for the core club championship age grades to remain U13, U15, and U17 with decoupling nationally staying at U17, the body have created special conditions for those counties seeking alternatives.

Any county that wishes to stage competitions for even age grades only will be allowed to providing they adopt an internal bye-law to decouple at U18. However, a county seeking to organise even age grade competitions can retain decoupling at 17 providing the players in their 18th year don’t play or train with an adult team before March 1, have the signed consent of the player, their parents/guardians and the club executive.

The task force adds that no player should have to play an adult and an U18 game within 60 hours of each other and insists that the county’s competitions control committee adheres to the policy.

The required signed document would have to be issued between March 1 and April 1 therefore ensuring the player is not eligible for adult competitions prior to March when schools programmes are taking place.

It is envisaged the form would provide essential details on the risk of burnout and overtraining of players in their 18th year.

The policy is to be discussed again with counties ahead of a final decision at January’s Central Council meeting and, if adopted, come into force from January 1, 2024.

The body have also recommended there should be only one inter-county grade between U17/U18 and senior.

For a number of reasons such as reducing the number of teams elite players are eligible for, avoiding inter-county fixtures congestion and minimising the impact on second and third level schools’ activity, the task force have made the proposal.

Weighing up the option of U18 and U20 against the retention of the current U17 minor grade and a new U19 level, the task force remains in support of the latter as it is consistent with previous under-age reports and there would be less crossover between U19 and third level games and senior inter-county panel than there would be U20.

They recommend to Central Council that they endorse a motion to next year’s Congress that the U20 All-Ireland football and hurling championships change to U19.

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