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Photograph by John Kelly.

Controversy Continues Over GAA U21 Eligibility

A meeting will be held on Thursday night to decide on the future of the 2019 Clare U-21 hurling championships.

Clubs will be asked to vote on reducing the Clare U-21B championship from 15-a-side to 13-a-side in order to counteract the loss of U-17 players at the grade.

Controversy has reigned in the last two weeks after a Croke Park ruling stated that U-17’s are not eligible to play in U-21 competitions.

This is despite the official rule-book stating that the U-21 grade shall have a five year span, but an interpretation of that ruling from the Rules Advisory Committee issued this week contradicted that statement.

Clubs have been informed that players must be 17 or over on January 1 of the championship year, with serious concerns expressed by a number of the clubs present at Tuesday night’s meeting that this would impact on their ability to field a team.

Sixmilebridge U-21 manager Tommy Liddy stated that up to 13 of their panel of 29 players were U-17, and that if the club decided they would not be in a position to compete in the A competition, they would not be competing in any division. A similar sentiment was put forward by Broadford’s Danny Chaplin, who said they would not be interested in dropping from the B championship to the C competition.

Scariff/Ogonnelloe are requesting to drop from the A championship to take part in B, as they will have just 17 players between the two clubs when U-17’s are taken out of the equation. Crusheen/Tubber also submitted a similar request, while Bodyke/O’Callaghans Mills are also considering their future in the top tier.

Josie Nevin of Eire Óg informed the meeting that they would also be hit by this ruling and the club would need time to decide if they will be continuing in this year’s B championship, with Feakle/Killanena also unsure as to what this will mean for their squad.

Chairman of Clare GAA Joe Cooney expressed his hope that a solution could be found which would allow the championships to go ahead as planned, but there is a fear that championship draws may have to be redone if teams are changing grades. It’s also hoped that this year’s series can still get underway on the planned weekend of March 9, with a full board meeting required to change the Master Fixtures plan if the need arises.

Thursday evening’s meeting gets underway at Clare GAA headquarters in Clareabbey at 7pm

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