Rebel Óg change primary Go Games ages for young GAA players in Cork

U7, U9 and U11 are now key grades but matches will be organised for clubs with numbers to operate at U8 and U10 as well
Rebel Óg change primary Go Games ages for young GAA players in Cork

The Aghada U8s enjoyed their trip to the Páirc before Covid restricted activity last year. Picture: Larry Cummins.

GAMES are at a standstill and it is unclear when underage affairs at club level will be allowed to start again, but most expect that it will be at least April before any action will be seen on pitches.

There is hope that training in pods might come back in mid to late March, but at present that is looking unlikely.

Like all sports, GAA clubs can only wait and see and hope that the lockdown and vaccine rollout will see a return to action sooner rather than later.

Rebel Óg have held a number of meetings with club representatives in recent weeks and it is hoped that all those issues clubs had will be resolved shortly.

Planning is also ongoing for the younger age groups, from U11 down and some clarity has been brought to this area, thanks to some great work by Kevin O’Callaghan and in particular, Colm Crowley, GDA with responsibility for the Go Games Programme.

Colm has put together an outline of their plans in so far as possible in the current climate.

Colm said that in line with national strategy, they will be modifying the format of the Go Games programme going forward.

Some of the changes include the fact that U11, U9 and U7 are to become the primary age-grades, while U8 and U10 will be provided for clubs with bigger numbers so that there are equal games opportunities as always.

For clubs who have always had one group for two age groups, in other words, played U8, U10 and U12 in the past, they are encouraged to now play U7, U9 and U11. That maintains the two-year gap to the next primary age grade of U13.

Colm also outlined the structure in the past for Go Games in Cork and also the new model.

U7 

Previously: Larger clubs who had big numbers, with panel of players only from the U7 age group ie no U6s. 

Now: All clubs.

U8

Previously: All clubs. 

Now: Clubs who can only field players born on the U8 year. Games will clash with U7s, so only clubs with sufficient numbers on the age should enter this age group.

U9 

Previously: Larger clubs who could field a team with only players on the age. 

Now: All clubs.

U10

Previously: All clubs. 

Now: Larger clubs who can field a team with only players on age.

U11

Previously: Larger clubs only, who could field a team with only players on the age. 

Now: All clubs.

Please note that these new ‘Primary Age Grades’ really only affect smaller clubs who pooled two ages groups together e.g., putting the U9s and U10s together to play U10. Larger clubs who fielded teams at all ages, there is no difference at all.

Games Format: U7 and U8 will be in a blitz format (restrictions permitting) and coordinated by the GDAs. Guidelines will be taken from the GAA Covid Advisory Group and from the Government.

 Players from Kilbrittain GAA club at an U8 Monster Football Blitz in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2019. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Players from Kilbrittain GAA club at an U8 Monster Football Blitz in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2019. Picture: Larry Cummins.

U9, U10 and U11 will be one on one match format, where clubs will be pooled with neighbouring clubs of similar size etc to ensure meaningful, competitive games.

Start date: At present, there is no start date in mind and it will be judged according to restrictions and will start when it is deemed safe to do so. However, games will not start before April 1, regardless of getting the go-ahead or not.

Please note players per team are currently being reviewed by Croke Park, and this will be updated and clubs informed before team entries are requested so that clubs can plan accordingly.

Entries: The will not be looking for entries at the moment. All secretaries will be notified when team entries are required. 

The GDAs are aware that some clubs picked management teams based on last year’s format of U8, U10 and U12, but this time may allow for clubs to revert to the new age grades.

U12 to Minor

For clarity, U12 is now a secondary grade in line with the new grades that Croke Park issued late last year. The new primary age grades are U13, 15 and 17 going forward.

However, Rebel Óg have committed to running full leagues for U12 sides that will start as soon as possible after restrictions lift and should run, bar a short summer break, until October.

These games will be run by the regions in a league format, with no championship as general rule only allows for championship from U14 up. Clarity is awaited by Rebel Óg on whether that championship will now move to U13 with the change in age grades.

In the meantime, Colm and Kevin ended by saying: “Stay safe and we look forward to everybody getting back on the pitch in the coming months.”

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