REBEL Óg have altered their proposed competition structure for young players from U12 to minor following submissions from clubs.
Those with larger numbers will now be allowed to enter second teams if needed at U14 and U16. There is also a facility for a third team competition if the demand is there.
The body running underage GAA affairs on Leeside have also added league semi-finals at U12, U14 and U16, though minor remains a championship.
More disappointingly there isn't a second-team option at minor, which will leave a portion of teenagers without any meaningful action, many of whom will be overage for minor in 2021.
Rebel Óg have also refused to budge on U13 and U15 competitions. This is a huge disappointment to players, coaches and parents of those born in 2007 and 2005, particularly in suburban clubs and in bigger towns like Bandon and Midleton, where generally hurlers and footballers stick to playing with their own age.
The only option now for clubs is to group their U13-U14 and U15-U16 together and select panels of 20 to enter the leagues.
Rebel Óg insist in their latest email to club secretaries that players can only play with one team on their age. However, there is nothing stopping the stronger U16s playing up with minor squads.
The key details are:
– Competitions will start on July 18 and finish by the end of September and no postponement of games. Set days will be put in place for the four grades.
– Age groups will be U12, U14, U16, and U18. U11 and younger will be run by GDAs under the direction of Kevin O’Callaghan, Games Manager.
– Minor to be played as Championship; U12, U14 and U16 to be played as leagues. All games are to be played in groups of four where possible, with first and second in each group qualifying for a semi-final.
– They are inviting entries for second and third team competitions in hurling and football at U14 and U16. U12 competitions will be organised by regional boards in each area.
– Clubs entering extra competitions must submit a list of a minimum of 20 players for their first team. Those players aren't eligible to play on second or third teams.
– They will be required to submit lists of 20 players, including the year of birth, to play on any second and third teams. No one can play in multiple teams in their age.
A letter was submitted on behalf of a number of suburban clubs to Rebel Óg on Wednesday which the following concerns about the negative impact of the revamped schedule:
"Excluding the U13s, U15s and C3 teams will inevitably lead to a drop off in numbers from parents and children who feel that they do not have a place in the organisation. It allows a conclusion to be drawn that at underage it is skewed towards focusing on the better players.
"As we all know, children develop at different stages, and the 'weak' player at 14 could well become a club mainstay for years to come at adult level. In addition, the better U13s might be called up to play with the U14s for example, further pushing players to one side and diminishing the established ethos is which is to treat all underage players equally and to encourage growth.
"It is hard enough as it is to keep players at the club to transition to adult teams, and this will make that process much more difficult."
"With soccer and rugby returning to playing fields, the attractiveness of playing some form of sport will undoubtedly influence choices not just now but when it comes to renewing membership next January.
"If we cannot assure children that membership of the club equates to playing time they could justifiably wonder why participating at all when there are other sports which could cater for them."
"Players who are not being offered playing time will understandably wonder what they have paid membership fees for.
"It is one thing not to be playing when the whole club is equally affected: it is another to see some players getting matches while others are excluded. Clubs are in a difficult enough position as it is financially without having to face the prospect of returning funds which have already been spent."
With pitch space and referees a concern across the GAA, camogie and ladies football from underage to adult when games return after July 17, the group's proposal was:
"Reinstate the 13, 15 and C3 categories; three matches in each code for each team following the same format (hurling week, football week, hurling week etc);
"P1 matches fixed by the Bord, no deviation allowed; C3 matches to be fixed between clubs but must be played that week, result in by Sunday evening; if a match cannot be played that week (holidays may result in diminished numbers in August in particular) then they do not get re-fixed but without financial penalties;
"For C3 matches the away team either (i) secures a referee of (ii) referees it themselves."