Thursday 14 December 2017

Under-17 grade mooted at Board meeting

Fixtures problems voiced by delegates

Brendan Furlong

Controversy regarding fixtures and their make-up is simply something that will not go away.

Issues relating to fixtures were discussed at Wednesday night's County Board meeting but club members are still no nearer seeing a solution.

County Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, told club delegates that over the four years since he took up office, he has received calls on a daily basis about issues regarding fixtures, and there are serious issues which the Association cannot look away from.

He spoke of the demands being placed on 17-year-old players while also relating to the fixtures dilemma of the Fethard club who had five matches fixed to take place within a seven-day timeframe. There are issues of clubs playing games back-to-back, while they also had a case of inter-county player, Liam Ryan, playing five games within a short span.

Devereux also said there are dates set in October for the provincial club championships, dates which are set outside of Wexford. There are a number of clubs who are going for county titles, but the dates set for the Leinster club championships are out of Wexford's control.

Take in holidays and inter-county Minor championship games, and it's clear to see the tight timeframe the county has to complete adult championships.

Even allowing for all of that, the county is probably on target to meet the Leinster club championship dates with the exception of Intermediate, for which they have applied for an extra week.

Fethard club Chairman, George Foley, passionately defended his club's role in the fixtures, clearly stating they did not concede a walkover in Under-21 hurling. He outlined the fixtures timeframe afforded the club over that period and the demand of games, with one player, Mikie Dwyer, also having to play an All-Ireland Junior football semi-final.

'We had a game postponed to facilitate this game and the release of Mikie (Dwyer) but were re-fixed to play 24 hours after the Junior game.

'So what does that say? The G.A.A. does not care about the club,' he said.

Wexford District Secretary, Joe Sheehan (Clonard), told the Chairman they should move on. 'We should not have to listen to that,' he said.

However, the Chairman said that club Chairmen and Secretaries were invited to the meeting so they were allowed to speak, with Sheehan clearly upset with this rebuke from the top table.

Devereux also referred to the proposed pilot scheme of which Wexford will become a part of regarding 17-year-olds.

He said that from January 1 next no person under 17 years of age can play adult games. He said that Wexford County Board got stuck into this to get it across Congress.

'As a result of this pilot scheme we take the clash of club Minor and adult away from each other. We can organise a separate Under-18 knockout competition through Coiste na nOg to facilitate those players.

'We are also lobbying Leinster Council to have minor inter-county played midweek like in Munster, and in terms of player welfare Wexford can lead the way in this. This is purely a welfare and health issue for the players.'

However, Faythe Harriers delegate Willie Murphy said what they are talking about is that for players of 18 years their championship days are over.

Coiste na nOg's John O'Neill outlined their fixture strategy which led to the Fethard re-fixture. He told of having received late application for the postponement of the Fethard game to facilitate the Junior inter-county management, and also told delegates such a new pilot scheme would place multiple games on 15- and 16 year-olds who will be asked to back-up Under-17 teams.

The County Chairman said what they are doing is removing the under-age as a barrier to adult fixtures.

'We are also facing into a calendar year proposal from the G.A.A. where it's intended to have all championships completed within the calendar year, including provincial and All-Ireland club championships.'

Now the County Board is to take the discussion back to each District and have a full report for the October meeting.

Wexford People

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