Counties are holding out hope that Central Council could soon reverse its interpretation which prevents 16-year-olds turning 17 this year from lining out for the clubs’ U21 teams.
With Tipperary’s U21 football and Limerick’s U21 hurling championship already underway and the likes of Cork and Clare to begin similar competitions shortly, several complaints have been made to Croke Park about the reading of the rule.
A Central Council meeting last weekend agreed that the minimum age for players representing their clubs at U21 level was 17 on January 1, thus preventing those who celebrate their 17th birthdays in 2019 from playing.
However, that was never the understanding of several counties when the rule was amended at last year’s Congress.
North Tipperary’s U21 B football final takes place this evening – finalists Ballina have six players turning 17 this year in their panel – and county secretary Tim Floyd yesterday had to break the news that they and others like them can no longer play in the competition.
In an email, he wrote: “Following the ruling as advised below from a meeting of Central Council last Saturday February 23 2018 and confirmed today by Munster Council, Coiste Chontae Thiobraid Árann
wishes to advise all our clubs that from today February 27 a player must be aged 17 (or over) on January 1 2019 to play in this year’s remaining 2019 Under 21 Football championship and the 2019 Under 21 Hurling Championship.
“Coiste Chontae Thiobraid Árann has exhausted all avenues to have this ruling deferred, but to no avail, so unfortunate we are forced to follow the ruling as advised.”