The secretaries of the three counties with the smallest populations believe that the decision to increase the minimum age for minor at inter-county level will be a good one.
At the annual Congress last weekend, a motion from Tipperary’s Moyle Rovers seeking to prevent U16 players from playing minor narrowly exceeded the required two-thirds majority.
While the change is not likely to come into rule until the start of 2015 — so as not to impact counties who have already picked panels this year — there are no concerns with regard to hampering counties with smaller picks.
“We’re happy with the change,” said Leitrim secretary Diarmuid McSweeney,
“I think it’s only a myth that it’s handicapping counties from a selection point of view. Players are either minors or they’re not and we’d be very much of the opinion that 15 or 16 is too young. It also puts an easier slant on fixture-making.”
Carlow secretary Gerard Lennon shares the view it’s easier to organise games, while also pointing out his county have preempted the ruling.
“We’ve been trying to avoid having 16-year-olds in the minors for the past few years, so it’s not a bolt from the blue or anything,” he said.
“It’s good to be able to keep the U16 squad together and you could conceivably have them playing on the same day as the minors without having to worry about players playing too much.
“The 17 and 18-year-olds also get a better chance for themselves and the good 16-year-olds will still get two years at minor so are not losing out.”
While Longford have promoted 16-year-olds in the recent past, county secretary Peter O’Reilly points out that this would not be routine for them.
“The only reason that would have happened was because those players were exceptional talents,” he said.
“They would have played 95% of the games, it wasn’t a case of just being on the panel for the sake of it and there would only ever have been two or three.
“If you do have 16-year-olds in the minors, they’re often foregoing a place in the U16 development squad and others might look at them and say ‘it’s not worth going if the top players are not’.”
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