CHRISTY COONEY has insisted that senior intercounty management must stop preventing U21 players from featuring in their own grade.
He has also called on County Board chiefs to ensure the practice does not continue.
The issue came to light in last week’s Bord Gáis Energy U21 hurling provincial championship action with both the Cork and Dublin camps affected by the unavailability of star players involved in senior football action at the weekend.
Cork duo Ciarán Sheehan and Aidan Walsh did not feature in the county’s Munster U21HC semi-final defeat to Tipperary while Dublin defender Rory Carroll was ruled out of their Leinster final victory over Wexford.
Cork U21 boss Ger Fitzgerald and Dublin senior manager Anthony Daly were both furious at not having access to the players due to proximity to last weekend’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier ties, and Cooney has urged that players be allowed feature in their own grade.
“My view is that there should be no player stopped from playing within their own grade, irrespective of anything else. They should be allowed to play and it’s important that they would play. I’m not just talking about a Cork situation, I’m talking about every place. There was an issue in Dublin as well. I believe players should be allowed to play within their grade.
“It’s (U21) a wonderful grade of hurling and football. They should never be stopped from that.”
The issue will remain a live one in Cork next season with both Sheehan and Walsh still eligible for U21 action, and Cooney believes that it is the duty of the Cork county board to facilitate their hectic schedule.
“Absolutely, if those two lads want to play hurling next year, they should be allowed to play. Nothing should interfere with that, in hurling or football, irrespective of what the grade is. That’s my view on it.
“I think that’s the role what county boards have and county chairmen in particular. They need to be saying that. If people make themselves available and want to play the game, they should be allowed to play the game.”
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