Small Laois club providing leadership ahead of GAA Congress
A small Laois GAA club is one of six clubs that will be attempting to reduce the lower age limit for adult players at next week’s GAA Congress.
Courtwood GAA is probably better known as the home club of the 2014 All-Ireland senior football final referee, Eddie Kinsella and the 2003 All-Star goalkeeper, Fergal Byron.
Interestingly, Kinsella has replaced Byron this year as the club’s intermediate football team manager after work commitments prevented him from accepting a second term in charge.
Along with their neighbouring club on the other side of the Kildare border, Monasterevan, the motion is also sponsored by Hollywood (Wicklow), Gortin St Patrick’s (Tyrone), Ardclough (Kildare) and Young Irelands, Gowran (Kilkenny), the home club of legendary Kilkenny hurler DJ Carey.
Speaking earlier this week, Byron said “As the rule is currently worded, lads who turn 17 this year are not allowed to play adult football or hurling. Unfortunately, this has two major defects. Firstly, players of that age are generally not supplied with enough minor or under 17 games. This is by no means exclusive to Laois either. And secondly, smaller clubs are affected by not being allowed use these players on their adult teams. For some clubs, it could mean the difference between having a second team or not. For some smaller clubs it could prevent them even having one adult team”
Kinsella maintains that his club weren’t particularly badly affected by the rule last year even though his son Alan was on the Laois minor team. He believes the long-term benefits of reducing the lower age limit by a year will help the smaller clubs.
“Yes, last year Alan couldn’t play adult club football. And, because there’s a rule that county minor panellists can’t play for their club until they are finished their inter county campaign, we are unlikely to have him available until May or June this year, which is fine because some lads get too much football. But it’s the young lad who is 17 this year and doesn’t get enough games that the existing rule is hurting”
The same motion received slightly less than 50% of the vote at the 2016 Congress but with clubs all over the country now having seen and indeed felt at first hand the effects of the 2015 rule change, there is a lot of optimism that the motion will receive the backing of the two thirds of the vote it needs to pass.
The clubs involved have put a huge effort into contacting as many of Ireland’s 2,300 plus GAA clubs as possible with a view to securing the support of each county’s delegation to Congress which takes place in Croke Park this year on the weekend of 24th/25th February.