CORK County Board secretary Frank Murphy has reiterated his opposition to the GAA decision to change the inter-county minor grade from U18 to U17, and he also maintains the U20 All-Ireland finals should not replace the minor deciders as senior curtain-raisers.
At Tuesday night’s county board meeting in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, delegates debated a Central Council discussion document, with a suggestion that the U20 finals would take the place occupied by the minor finals.
While there was some appetite from the floor for U18 to return instead of U17, Cork’s Central Council delegate Bob Ryan said he feared the ship had sailed.
“There is a broad feeling nationally that U17 will also be forced on counties and U18 will disappear. As for going back, you’re against the tide on that one.”
Murphy made plain his disappointment with that development.
“We’re against the tide, but a wrong decision was made. The minor grade now is not the same in terms of intensity, physicality or interest, as it was when it was U18.
"We were told that the age changed because of the pressures of doing the Leaving Cert, but the Dr Harty Cup is now U19.
"Why? Because that’s the age at which the majority of students are doing the Leaving.
“Even looking at our own U18 minor county championships, you’d be astounded at the physicality that you don’t see at U17.”
Responding to a question from Passage delegate Matt Aherne as to the potential for reversing the minor age-change, Murphy said it would need a 60% majority in a Congress vote.
However, he also made a cogent argument against the U20 finals replacing minor on All-Ireland final day in Croke Park.
“We were in the All-Ireland U21 hurling final this year, a game involving two counties who weren’t in the senior final, and there was a crowd of 17,000 there.
“Would the same allocation be given to counties in the U20 finals? Absolutely not, it would be the same as for the minor now, which is in the hundreds.
"They would be moved out again in a few years and you wouldn’t know what curtain-raiser would be there instead.”