By Niall Gartland
TYRONE have become the latest county to revert the ‘even-numbered’ model at underage level, following a vote of club delegates in Garvaghey on Tuesday evening.
Club delegates delivered what was officially described by Tyrone GAA as an ‘overwhelming’ vote to end the experiment with u-13, i-15 and u-17 age groups, which was introduced in 2019.
The change will be effective immediately, and the Tyrone CCC will now consult with clubs about the scheduling of fixtures for the year ahead.
The Tyrone CCC had already issued their fixture plans last month, but the GAA at Central Level recently agreed on a new policy allowing counties to make their own decision on returning to the even-numbered model.
In the meeting on Tuesday night, it was also agreed that ‘decoupling’ will be at 17, which essentially means that 18-year-olds are permitted to play adult games from March 1 in any given year subject to the approval of an individual player’s parents, guardians and clubs.
Tyrone clubs had been at the forefront on applying diplomatic pressure on the GAA to revert to its traditional system whereby youngsters would field at u-12, u-14, u-16 and u-18 level. Errigal Ciaran were one of a number of clubs that brought motions to the 2022 Congress on the matter, and although their motions fell, the debate sparked led to the formation of a task force by the GAA.
More recently, Errigal brought a motion to the Tyrone County Convention in December and emailed clubs across Ulster asking them to do likewise.
Meanwhile, Trillick man Dermot McCaughey was elected as new vice-chairman of the Tyrone County Board at Tuesday evening’s meeting in Garvaghey, succeeding Martin Sludden who was elected as county chairman at convention.
The position had been left unfilled on convention night but McCaughey has now filled the vacant position following a vote of club delegates.
Earlier in the week, Armagh GAA also decided to revert to even-aged grades with immediate effect while Derry club delegates will assemble next Monday to discuss whether they too should change.
Antrim clubs have decided to stick with the status quo, while Donegal released a short statement on Tuesday evening saying their county management committee had voted to persist with the odd-numbered model.
It is, however, expected that all nine counties in Ulster will revert to the even-numbered grades next season.