HAVING RECENTLY failed in their quest to see the under-21 championships merged with the minor championships into one new underage grade, the GAA's Player Burnout Task Force have come back with the proposal to lower the existing under-21 championship to under-20 level, thereby reduced the crossover into senior level.
This was the main motion of the burnout proposals going before next month's special congress and outlined by task force member Dr Niall Moyna in Croke Park yesterday, on behalf of the task force chairman, Dr Pat O'Neill. Given Moyna's expertise on the matter, it made a lot of sense, although because it would be a permanent move, the chances of it going through still appear slim.
Moyna outlined five areas that continue to contribute to the issue of player burnout, and which the task force hope to address with their latest series of motions: "The first of those is multiple team involvement," he said. "Players being part of several teams at the same time. There is also a continued over-lapping in competitions.
"There is still the absence of a defined closed season, and an over-emphasis on the physical element of training, without the proper emphasis on rest. Finally, there are still undue time travel demands on students.
"In turning the under-21 competitions at county and club level to an under-20 competition, what we found was once players get to under-21 level, they're usually good enough to play senior, whereas there wouldn't be nearly as much crossover at under-20 level."
Again, this is a permanent move, even though the last special congress emphatically turned down the proposal to merge the under-21 championship with the minor championship: "While that was the case," admitted Moyna, "the counties also came back to us and said they were prepared to look at an under-20 championship. In turn, we looked at reducing minor from under-18 to under-17, but because not every school does a transition year, this just wasn't feasible."