ERRIGAL Ciaran have a ‘clear intention’ of working towards change in the GAA’s underage grades despite their motion being defeated at last weekend’s Congress in Mayo.
The motion, also endorsed in media circles by Vice Chairman Peter Canavan and current Antrim manager Enda McGinley, called for a change of wording in the GAA Official Guide that would allow individual County Boards decide on their own age grades, irrespective of ‘Central Council Policy’.
The same motion was put forward by Monaghan club Corduff, Carrickedmond in Longford and three Down clubs, Castlewellan, Loughinsland and Bryansford.
After cases were made for the motion, former GAA president Nicky Brennan highlighted the difficulty of organising inter-county development squad competitions if all counties were not operating the same age grades.
The motion only received 39.5 per cent of the vote and was defeated.
In a statement from former Errigal Ciaran Chairman Tommy Traynor, sent to the Ulster Herald, he outlines that even in disappointment, the he feels there is a ‘clear mood’ for change.
Tommy, who proposed the motion and spoke on it at the Tyrone Convention in December, explains how the GAA’s Central Council have agreed to form a Working Group to discuss underage grades and proposed a Special Congress later in the year.
“We have started a serious debate on the issue and received great support across the country, the grassroots are fully behind the move back to U18 at club level,” continued Traynor, who still holds a place on the club committee.
“Thankfully the GAA at national level also recognise that counties need flexibility change. The GAA have given us an assurance that a full root and branch review will be undertaken on the back of our motion.
“There is a clear mandate from the clubs across Ulster that we return to U18 competition at club level to support our young people during this critical phase in their development.
“It is our clear intention to continue to work towards effecting change over coming months ahead. It is the least we can do to support our young people.”
Another underage related motion to fail on Saturday was from Ard Chomhairle calling for the All-Ireland inter-county U20 football and hurling championships to be ‘temporarily’ set aside for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons. In their place, the GAA were proposing for U17 to be made a development grade and U19 to become the new ‘minor’ age.
It got 55.6 per cent of the vote, short of the 60 per cent to see it pass.
There were also three other motions, 40, 41 and 42 brought to the table that called for inter-county minor to return to U18. Corduff’s motion was set to allow players in their first year of U16 to play minor, Carrickedmond raised the bottom age for minor to U15, while Killygarry proposed inter-county minor to be U18 with no U16 players allowed to play.
All three motions were withdrawn and, to be discussed by ‘relevant committees’.
In a separate motion, Castlewellan were proposing that a player would only be eligible for adult club teams if he celebrated his 17th birthday prior to July 1 of the championship year. It was also withdrawn and to be discussed later.