“The under-20s have been left in limbo.”
Diarmuid Connolly has spoken out against the GAA’s decision not to organise Under-20 competitions for 2021, with the 2020 hurling championship still to be played.
Connolly has warned the Association that it risks losing younger players if there aren’t games for them to compete in at their respective age level.
Connolly on GAA Under-20 competitions.
The GAA released details of their calendar for the upcoming season but at the moment, there are no plans to schedule Under-20 inter-county games.
“It has been well documented in the media that the GAA have a roadmap for the under-18s and for the seniors onwards but the Under-20s have been left in limbo,” Connolly told Boylesports.
“It’s not fair because there is an outstanding hurling competition from 2020 still to be played and they still haven’t given a roadmap for when that might come back.”
The two-time All-Star mentioned Brian Fenton as an example of someone who needed Under-21 level to develop as a player.
“These men are the lifeblood of these senior elite panels now and we need to keep developing these young lads and bringing them through,” Connolly added.
“I was lucky enough when I came out of minor that I went into the senior panel but some of these guys don’t do that.
“The likes of Brian Fenton, who is probably the best footballer in the country at the moment, he didn’t play senior for a couple years after minor and without that Under-20s, would he have developed into the player he has? I don’t think he would.
“This needs to be addressed and fairly quickly. It needs to be made into the planning of the GAA calendar at the moment because if it doesn’t, we are going to lose a lot of these guys from all over the country.
“This year is a very important year for these young players to develop. Some will mature quicker than others and I found over the years that you will get two or three really good players from their final years of the Under-20s and they come in pushing like crazy for a jersey in the senior squad. It’s a really important grade and I hope the GAA can sort this out quickly.”