As clubs across the country are planning for the 2016 season and senior managers are holding meetings to set out their stall there will be something different this January. A group of people missing.
The use of minor players on adult football and hurling teams has changed based on rules passed at the recent GAA congress. Next season U17 players, in their first year of minor (born in 1999) won't be allowed to play for senior or reserve teams (see motion 50 below).
For those in their final year of minor (born 1998) they are open to play for their club adult teams but there is different ruling for county minors. Any U18 on a county minor panel won't be allowed to play for their adult club teams until their county season is over (motion 51 below).
To sum up:
- U17s (born 1999) cannot play adult football or hurling.
- U18s (born 1998) can play as usual
- U18s (born 1998) on county minor panels cannot play adult football or hurling until their county season is over.
A few years ago Ryan Bell won a senior championship for Ballinderry as an U17 player and last season Slaughtneil hurling manager Michael McShane had access to U17 player Brian Cassidy. These scenarios were a regular occurrence in other clubs and counties but now are a thing of the past.
It will be a welcome move from the point of view of burnout and physios will be a lot happier as players won't be under the same pressure. Also during exam season it will be a welcome help in terms of revision time as players will have one less iron in the fire.
The other side of the coin is a serious one though. Those smaller clubs who simply need minors to survive. The club managers here will be not be happy as they will have reduced options. It is sure to create controversy in the first year but all clubs are in the same boat.
Maybe another knock on effect is that adult players on the fringes of senior teams will get a better chance to develop. They won't be looking over the shoulder as the next minor star comes looking for his position. It all makes for an interesting year ahead.
Another motion (motion 52) to just have provincial winners enter the All-Ireland series was rejected in favour of keeping the inter county back door at minors. Ulster still remains the only province where a county only gets a second bite at the cherry unless they get to the final at Clones in July. The other three councils have a system where all counties get a second chance.
An interesting fact from 2005 when Down won the All-Ireland minor title, all four provincial minor champions were beaten at the All-Ireland Quarter Final stage.
MINOR REVIEW COMMITTEE MOTIONS (Motions 50-54) - The following five motions are all from the Minor Review Committee.
Motion 50: Proposes that the age of eligibility to play senior club football and hurling be raised from over 16 to over 17, and for inter-county from over 16 to over 18. At U21 level, it proposes that club players be over 16 and that inter-county players be over 18. (Minor Review Committee). PASSED
Motion 51: Proposes that a player on an inter-county minor panel shall not play in adult club league competitions/challenge games until his inter-county activity for the year is concluded. (Minor Review Committee). PASSED
Motion 52: This motion proposes the removal of the All-Ireland Minor Championship quarter-finals, and would provide for the four provincial minor champions to proceed directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals. (Minor Review Committee). REJECTED
Motion 53: This motion relates to the dates when provincial minor championships should commence. (Minor Review Committee). PASSED
Motion 54: This motion gives second level schools 'first call' on players involved with a county minor or U21 panel until such time that their competitive involvement with their school team is concluded. (Minor Review Committee). REJECTED