Abolishing minor grade would be ridiculous – O’Donnell

Fergal O’Donnell, the man who led Roscommon to a spectacular and never-to-be -forgotten All-Ireland minor football success in 2006, has said that for the GAA to abolish the minor grade would be ‘ridiculous’.    A special task force of well-known GAA people recently studied two major  issues: that  of burnout amongst GAA players and particularly among young players, and the whole question of the fixture list.    After several meetings and hundreds of submissions from  various interested parties the committees  concerned  came up with their final report last week.   The reports will be discussed and voted upon at a special congress in January and the consequences could affect every single player and club in the country.    The most controversial recommendation on burnout is that the U-21 and minor grade be abolished and that they be replaced  with an U-19 grade. Fergal O’Donnell told The Roscommon People that ‘This is typical of the GAA, they seem to be hell-bent on making a bags off everything. Maybe there is case for the abolition of the U-21 grade because there is no suitable time to play that competition but to introduce an U-19 grade would affect many lads doing the Leaving Certificate now, because there are so many repeating’ he says.   ‘The minor football championship should be started in mid-July, have extra-time in all matches and play the games midweek if necessary and there wouldn’t be a problem. The minor championship has stood the test of time and I would be against changing it’ he said.  There are also several other recommendations in the report which are listed below. They are as follows: Introduction of education on training techniques and risks at an early stage in the  coach-development programmes Development of injury surveillance and prevention strategies to reduce injury in young players Regulation and continuity in player training, coaching and management Introduction of a scheduled playing calendar with structured recovery intervals, rest periods and a closed season Application of evidence-based scientific principles and best practice to training and participation Reduction of adverse effects on studies and /or work Improved physical, psychological, social lifestyle  Reduction of travel inconvenience cost and fatigue Reduction of medical and treatment costs and expenses Pre-emption of future litigation due to chronic-injury disability   The proposals and recommendations are outlined in detail in the report of the Task Force and relate to inter-county level only and for a two-year trial period.    The major proposal is the amalgamation of the inter-county minor and under-21 grades into a single grade of under-19 grade.     The proposals will be circulated to all county boards (and clubs) for discussion, and will be debated at a Special Congress in January 2008     The report is certain to generate huge discussion and debate amongst clubs and GAA members in Co Roscommon. It will be interesting to see where the argument falls with regard to the abolition of the minor and U-21 grade. The last two major All-Ireland titles won in Roscommon were at U-21 (1978) and minor (2006) level.