Wexford senior football manager David Power has railed against the ban on dual minor inter-county players in his native Tipperary, insisting that it’s “wrong and should not be happening”.
With Power in charge, Tipperary were crowned Munster and All-Ireland minor football champions in 2011 before enjoying another big campaign a year later.
In 2012, Power worked closely with his hurling counterpart William Maher and Tipp’s minor hurlers and footballers claimed three of the four big prizes on offer.
The footballers retained the Munster title and the hurlers won the provincial and All-Ireland crowns, proof in Power’s eyes that the dual experiment can work.
Across both seasons, five players finished as dual All-Ireland minor medallists, namely Bill Maher, Dylan Fitzell, Tom Kirwan, John McGrath, and Steven O’Brien.
With dual players still permitted last year, Tipp contested All-Ireland minor hurling and football finals but hurling boss Liam Cahill indicated that it was one code, but not both, this year. Tipp’s minor footballers crashed out of the Munster championship last week after losing their second game of the provincial campaign and the hurlers must beat Clare away from home next week to avoid elimination after suffering defeat to Waterford last weekend.
And Power, whose father Michael is Tipperary County Board treasurer, is dismayed by the fact that minor players were not permitted to represent the Premier County in both codes in 2016.
He reflected: “In the space of two seasons, 2011 and 2012, look at what the minor grade had achieved for this county.
“Last year, it came to the point where people were cribbing about two teams being in All-Ireland finals.
“Now we’re here, towards the end of April, and there’s a distinct possibility that the minor hurlers and footballers are going to be out of their respective championships so early this year.
“Why? There was unnecessary pressure put on these young fellas, there were young fellas playing down in Waterford (last weekend for the hurlers) who wanted to play football.
“Instead of leaving them play football, they actually piled more pressure on them by forcing them to pick hurling over football.
“What’s killing me is that Tipperary is a big enough county to compete in both hurling and football if they work together, not against each other.
“We should be proud of the fact that we can be so competitive in both. Look at all the teams that are only competing in one. Do we want something like what happened the Kilkenny minor footballers against Wexford?
“If we keep going down this track, that’s what’s going to happen.” Power, despite speaking out publicly on the dual situation, also insisted that the elephant in the room is underage coaching structures.
He insisted: “The coaching structures in our county are completely wrong.
“I firmly believe the dual issue isn’t the big, big problem in Tipperary, it’s actually the coaching structures.”
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