Saturday 16 December 2017

U-16 withdrawal slammed

Brendan Furlong

Wexford Under-16 football coach, Peter Grannell, has slammed the County Board decision to withdraw from a forthcoming inter-county competition.

The Sarsfields clubman claimed that the decision has been made for financial reasons with no consideration given to the amount of time and preparation put in by team mentors and players in the preparation of the squad for a prestigious tournament which attracts top-quality inter-county squads.

The latest development has come as a huge blow to football in the county, particularly as this is the squad that would have been brought forward to the new Minor (Under-17) championship format next year.

Wexford were scheduled to play their opening game against Wicklow at the Ferns Centre of Excellence on October 14, a game that the mentors and players had been preparing for over several months.

However, they were shocked when informed that the county was withdrawing and not fulfilling their obligations to the tournament.

Grannell said he was contacted by the Games Administration Office informing him of the County Board's decision to withdraw.

'The initial reason given was budgetary,' he added, as the person bearing the bad news told him 'we had exceeded our budgets'.

'We had a review committee meeting with County Board and told again it was down to budgets. Subsequently I sent out a text to parents telling them we were finished, explaining the situation. I said it was down to budgets which I did not believe at the time,' Grannell added.

'I firmly believe the work of the academies is being undermined. I also firmly believe that is the motive behind this decision.

'I'm very disappointed for the lads involved. Parents have contacted me expressing their shock and disappointment at the decision.

'We have been together since last October, we have had trials, got an extended panel together, and reduced it in March to a final panel.

'I felt it was all very well organised with the academy having got good results over the past two years.

'I believe they (County Board) are now talking about root and branch reports in both hurling and football.

'My biggest issue with this decision is what they are actually saying is "we are useless", but there was not one member of County Board at any of our training sessions to witness the work that's going on,' Grannell added.

'There were a lot of questions asked on budgets, but this is a huge year with the Under-16 side being prepared for U-17 championship next year.

'The tournament would have been ideal preparation for the new Under-17 championship.

'We have had no contact seeing if we are available for next year. I take it there is a wipe-out of under-age management but this decision is all down to budgets irrespective of what they say.

'Our budget was not increased, because two additional squads were pulling out of it. Our budget was €9,000 and we spent about €6,500,' he added.

County P.R.O. P.J. Howlin was unavailable for comment.

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