GAA Football

Timing of U20 championship is wrong - Fergal McCusker

Derry U21 manager Fergal McCusker says plans to play the U20 championship in the summer will lead to further problems for clubs
Picture by Seamus Loughran
Cahair O'Kane

SCHEDULING the new U20 championship for the middle of summer will put counties and clubs at loggerheads over players, believes Derry U21 boss Fergal McCusker.

The 1993 All-Ireland winner will take charge of his county for the first time on Wednesday night when they face Antrim in the Ulster preliminary round. This will be the penultimate year of the competition before it is replaced by a new U20 championship in 2018.

Currently, the All-Ireland U21 series generally finishes in April, with the provincial finals all completed by the early part of the month. That usually frees the players involved to start the club season, which also begins in April in most counties.

The new competition will controversially be played across the months of June, July and August, which could impinge further on clubs’ access to players. It’s understood the reasoning behind the move is to eliminate potential overlaps for players between county duty and university or schools' competitions.

“Who are we really clashing with at the minute? I have maybe one Sigerson footballer in Niall Toner on my team, so there wasn’t a clash there,” said McCusker.

“Okay, there’s a couple of guys at the other end of the scale who are still in MacRory, but it’s very small. If you go into June, July, August, you’re right in the middle of club preparations.

“Club managers don’t mind their players going to county U21 at the minute. They’re getting good enough coaching, their fitness levels will be okay and they’re doing some form of training. But if you go into the white heat of the summer? I can’t see the logic in it.”

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GAA Football