Douglas and Sars shone in Rebel Óg finals but minor issue causing major concern in clubs across the county

GAA imposed an U17 cut-off for minor competitions but didn't factor in what the next step would be for the average club player
Douglas and Sars shone in Rebel Óg finals but minor issue causing major concern in clubs across the county

Sarsfields' Ruairi Hurley is tackled by Glen Rover's Eoghan O'Sullivan during the Rebel Óg Premier 1 Minor Challenge Cup final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

DOUGLAS and Sarsfields lifted the top-level minor hurling trophies at Páirc Uí Rinn on Monday night.

Douglas, unbeaten beforehand, had too much power, pace, skill and firepower for Midleton in the Premier 1 Championship final.

With Charlie Lucas and Ronan Dooley menacing corner-forwards, Cathal Hallahan and Joe Hartnett offering an aerial outlet, Fionnan Barry play-making from centre-forward and Christopher O’Keeffe and Luis Fogarty delivering quality ball, the city side created, and took, chances throughout.

Eoin O’Flynn anchored a watertight Douglas defence and the reward was the club’s second P1 minor hurling victory and first since Shane Kingston shot them to glory in 2015. For good measure, they can complete a remarkable double this Monday when they face Valley Rovers, who ran them very close in the hurling semi-final, in a repeat of last year’s U16 football final which Douglas won.

Michael O'Mahony, chairman Rebel Óg, presents Douglas' captain James O'Callaghan-Maher with the Premier 1 Hurling trophy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Michael O'Mahony, chairman Rebel Óg, presents Douglas' captain James O'Callaghan-Maher with the Premier 1 Hurling trophy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Sarsfields, disappointed to miss out on the top four, were in control against Glen Rovers in the shield. Stephen Lynam, MVP in last season’s primary final, was the Glen’s main attacking threat but Sars had better balance, Barry O’Flynn, John Leddy and Darragh O’Connor all contributing heavily on the scoreboard.

The games were lopsided but that didn’t take from the quality on show from all four teams, helped by referees Niall O’Neill and Shane Scanlon letting them flow as much as possible.

FALLOUT

The huge issue at minor this season isn’t the on-the-field action, it’s the fallout from the GAA’s reckless decision to drop the age at the grade from U18 to U17.

The move was made to decouple senior and underage fixtures, allowing a proper master plan to be put in place. While no one would question that benefit, the change didn’t account for how young GAA players were supposed to stay engaged with the sport coming out of U17, a period when the majority of them have just gone into fifth year in secondary school.

As predicted at the start of 2021 when counties were forced by GAA headquarters to go to U17 minor, stop-gap U19 competitions didn’t provide a meaningful programme of games. In Cork, they were run off on a knockout basis but a host of walkovers, including the Glen conceding their P1 hurling semi-final to Valleys.

The most gifted, the likes of the Barrs’ Ben O’Connor and William Buckley, have adapted to adult GAA without any issue. The problem is that the rest, who can’t bridge the gap from U17 to adult, don’t feel there is anything left for them.

The GAA was supposed to resolve the situation with a special congress this winter but instead have shoved it onto next year at annual congress. 

A cop-out if ever there was one.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more