The minor grade at county level will change from U18 to U17 after next year following a vote at Congress last night.
The first of a suite of burnout proposals put forward by GAA director general Páraic Duffy, the motion was narrowly passed by a 68.2% majority.
Minor at club level will remain U18 and over-14 years.
Also supported, by 68.6%, was the replacement of the U21 All-Ireland football championship from 2018 with an U20 developmental championship. The new competition will run concurrently with the All-Ireland SFC in June, July, and August, but will not involve any players who are part of their counties’ senior panels. All games will be decided on the day.
Before voting on the U17 motion, Duffy strongly defended the proposal, pointing out the overwhelming number of 18-year-olds sitting the Leaving Certificate. He also highlighted that by reducing the age group to U17 minor inter-county games wouldn’t impact on adult club fixtures.
There was strong support for the motion from the GAA’s medical, scientific, and welfare chairman, Ger Ryan, Offaly chairman Padraig Boland, and Michael Martin, who headed up the minor review committee.
Cork senior administrator Diarmuid O’Donovan said there was nothing broken about minor or U18, as highlighted in the county’s high number of 19-year-olds now sitting the Leaving Certificate.
He was joined by Kilkenny’s Central Council delegate Paul Kinsella, who argued that dropping minor to U17 would place more strength and conditioning demands on mid-adolescent players.
Cork, in the form of chairman Ger Lane, also opposed the U20 championship recommendation. Lane pointed out the presence of another inter-county competition in the summer would impact on dual counties. In support of it was former GAA president Liam O’Neill who said delegates had a duty of care to their players and the motion was more important than the minor vote.
The rest of the burnout and club fixtures recommendations will be debated this morning.
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