A proposal aimed at preventing inter-county managers forcing potential dual players to choose between hurling and football failed to get off the ground at the Tipperary GAA annual convention.
The motion, put forward by the Upperchurch-Drombane club, wanted the county board and its officials to “facilitate and support playing members being afforded the opportunity to participate at all levels in the full range of Gaelic Games available to them, particularly in underage competitions”.
It followed some criticism this year in Tipperary of minor hurling manager Liam Cahill’s decision not to allow dual players on his panel. In 2015, both minor hurling and football teams reached their All-Ireland finals before losing both, prompting concern in the county about the effects long campaigns had on the numerous players involved in both squads.
This year, the Tipp minor hurlers won the All-Ireland, while the footballers were knocked out of the Munster championship by Limerick, although some of the latter were then able to join up with the hurling panel.
The Upperchurch-Drombane motion was ruled out of order at the convention by county chairman Michael Bourke - himself a member of that club - who said he had sought advice from Croke Park on the matter and decided it would be in breach of Official Guide rules.
“Also,” Mr Bourke said, “I would not wish to be sitting down in front of all the managers and telling them who they must play and who they must pick and telling them they must have dual players.”
Proposing th motion, Conor O’Dwyer from Upperchurch-Drombane said he was concerned that, in a traditionally-hurling oriented county like Tipperary, making players choose code could see underage members opting out of football development squads as early as at under-13 or under-14 level. “I believe it’s happening already,” O’Dwyer said.
He pointed out that, of the senior football team who reached this year’s All-Ireland semi-final, “a not insignificant number of them played minor hurling for Tipperary”.
David Power, who managed the Tipperary minor football team to an All-Ireland win in 2011, said it seems to be okay for young Tipp hurlers to play other codes like soccer or rugby, but not Gaelic football.
Tipperary is, Power added, “one of the few counties that can actually achieve in both football and hurling,” stressing it “can work” for players to be involved in both games.
Meanwhile, the Tipperary board has recommended that the inter-county under-21 football and hurling grade be changed to under-20, to fall in line with the imminent change of the minor grade from under-18 to under-17.
The motion from the Kilsheelan-Kilcash club was unanimously carried and will now go forward to GAA congress for consideration.
Former county chairman Sean Nugent, of Kilsheelan, said it would help “bridge the gap” between the new, younger, minor grade and adult level. The motion also called for inter-county senior players to be ineligible for the under-20 competition.
This, Mr Nugent said, would also be part of a framework to improve the lot of club players as it would prevent people from being involved in too many teams. “We want to create a 12-week period for most club players, from August to the end of October.”
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