National Forum

Underage Structures In Your County

(Oldest Posts First)

Hi folks

It was with great envy that I watched the weekend's electrifying football action in Croke Park! Would love nothing more than to be able to witness Cavan's county football teams play on the biggest stage regularly and compete. Alas, that seems a pipe dream at present. It's been wonderful to see Offaly and Sligo end long waits for meaningful underage silverware in recent weeks, and it's also obvious that Monaghan and Roscommon must be doing plenty right because their u20 sides were a credit, and bright futures await for plenty of their players.

There has been a lot of discussion and despondency in Cavan football circles this year as, in addition to the seniors dropping to Div4, our Underage slide continued (the minors falling at the first hurdle at home to a Fermanagh team beaten by 30 points by Tyrone in the next game being a new nadir), with the county's Games Development side coming in for sharp scrutiny, to put it mildly. All this has got me wondering as to how these things are handled in other counties;

- What Development squads exist? How often do they meet/train?
- Is there friction between clubs and those handling these development squads re access to players?
- How many Games Development Officers/Coaches does your county have? What are their roles?
- Is there joined-up-thinking between the Games Development management and the top footballing schools/colleges in your county?
- Is there accountability/scrutiny of the Games Development Manager's performance? What metrics are used?

I suppose there is also a good debate around whether underage silverware is actually that important. For example, I believe Mayo have only won 1 Connact u20/21 since 2009 and 1 Connacht minor since 2014 so it might not be essential to be hoovering up medals, but more important to promote the players all round development for the future. Either way, you reap what you sow!

GallantJohnJoe (Cavan) - Posts: 323 - 16/08/2021 11:49:25    2371907

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Kerry have obviously had huge success at minor level in recent years and I think the first All Ireland winning team were the first group to come through the whole development squad process as in they were the first group who had them at u14 in Kerry. The development squads only train once a week in Kerry and only from something like April to August. I remember the Clare minor manager after losing the 2020 Munster Final saying that it was obvious how far ahead Kerry were in terms of strength and conditioning. Kerry actually do very little strength and conditioning work before minor. I'm told squads get together once a week for 2 months in the Winter to do sessions but it's all about technique with no emphasis on weight. Adding weight to build strength is driven by the young players themselves as they know it's necessary to make County teams and not be left behind. From my own experiences and as far as I can see GPOs or GDAs have very minimal input in Kerry. Interesting to hear how things are done etc. in other counties.

Kerry15 (Kerry) - Posts: 863 - 16/08/2021 16:20:26    2372065

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Cavan won 4 Ulsters in a row about 10 years ago, thats unreal. Meath are waiting 20 years for a leinster title. we badly need to make the step up from minor to u20. Meath and Kildare are in a serious position with population, logistics etc, theres no reason they shouldnt be in div 1 constantly.

dickie10 (UK) - Posts: 581 - 16/08/2021 23:41:57    2372186

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For years we were in the dark ages regarding underage. And it showed with such little success and our senior intercounty teams going through a really bad patch. County board were lamenting the loss of the Christian Brothers schools up to middle of last decade and for ages our only GDAs were in CIT and UCC...things have started to change since Rebel Og was set up in 2011 and has been making big progress.

There are far more coaching workshops, more GDAs and some development squads (not everyone is a fan - on the fence myself) are in place. There are plenty of blitze..

there is a bit to go yet but even this year they introduced preseason from under 13 up in an effort to get league and championship grading right and we have organised blitzes all the way down to under 6 with clubs paired weekly.

For underage, the effort has to be raising the standards across the board and not just development squads for the few. Increase participation for all, increase standards of coaching and competition. I think that we have made big progress here but started from a long way behind others.

This year at intercounty level we won all the underage titles in Munster. This is huge from where we were even 5 years ago. This won't happen every year but I am hoping that we will no longer go 10,15,20 years without even one title in some grades.

bennybunny (Cork) - Posts: 3878 - 17/08/2021 11:50:19    2372310

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Replying To dickie10:  "Cavan won 4 Ulsters in a row about 10 years ago, thats unreal. Meath are waiting 20 years for a leinster title. we badly need to make the step up from minor to u20. Meath and Kildare are in a serious position with population, logistics etc, theres no reason they shouldnt be in div 1 constantly."
Winning under age competition's really means nothing if you don't bring players through to the senior set up…. As Colin Cooper said losing the All Ireland minor final to Derry makes no difference so long of 2/3 players can make the step up to senior… Cavan put everything into getting U21 wins even at the expense of stiffling the forward line with negative set ups…. Look where we are now… Tyrone lost 2 of those finals but had plenty of success at senior level since which is what it's all about…!!!!

ForeverBlue2 (Cavan) - Posts: 289 - 17/08/2021 13:25:35    2372366

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Mayo have had development squads/schools of excellence for 30 odd years - which has been a large part of the constant div 1 status in that time (bar this year)

It is a very politically influenced operation and it's harder to get off a panel once your on one
However, it hasn't produced the good really considering the investment

The big change over the past few years has been the senior development squad. Mayo now have U20, development panel and senior panel all training under same S&C and skills training which insures lads have the proper S&C if they can get a game at senior level- at least they can last a game and do the basics well.

For me the optimum would be to do the following:
1. Staggered cut off dates at underage
U12- May, U13 Dec, U14 July, U15 Feb, U16 Sept, U17 Apr, U18 Nov, U19 June , U20 Jan

2. Seven aside schools of excellence for taller lads

3. Hand passing limit at underage

4. Two points for a 45 at underage

5. Ban on gym work below u17 - skills training only

tirawleybaron (Mayo) - Posts: 879 - 18/08/2021 05:18:51    2372591

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Replying To tirawleybaron:  "Mayo have had development squads/schools of excellence for 30 odd years - which has been a large part of the constant div 1 status in that time (bar this year)

It is a very politically influenced operation and it's harder to get off a panel once your on one
However, it hasn't produced the good really considering the investment

The big change over the past few years has been the senior development squad. Mayo now have U20, development panel and senior panel all training under same S&C and skills training which insures lads have the proper S&C if they can get a game at senior level- at least they can last a game and do the basics well.

For me the optimum would be to do the following:
1. Staggered cut off dates at underage
U12- May, U13 Dec, U14 July, U15 Feb, U16 Sept, U17 Apr, U18 Nov, U19 June , U20 Jan

2. Seven aside schools of excellence for taller lads

3. Hand passing limit at underage

4. Two points for a 45 at underage

5. Ban on gym work below u17 - skills training only"
Staggered cut off dates to do what exactly? You just cause confusion and affect more clubs with fielding if it isnt standard across all age groups and considering they will be playing games as well.

What benefit would banning gym work for under 17s bring? The players are going to be doing work themselves especially those with intentions of playing under 20 and maybe senior in years to come

KillingFields (Limerick) - Posts: 2549 - 18/08/2021 09:41:42    2372611

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Replying To ForeverBlue2:  "Winning under age competition's really means nothing if you don't bring players through to the senior set up…. As Colin Cooper said losing the All Ireland minor final to Derry makes no difference so long of 2/3 players can make the step up to senior… Cavan put everything into getting U21 wins even at the expense of stiffling the forward line with negative set ups…. Look where we are now… Tyrone lost 2 of those finals but had plenty of success at senior level since which is what it's all about…!!!!"
It's always been an odd one as to why some countries don't/can't build on underage success.

Laois in the late 90s and mid 2000s. Hugely successful but only one Leinster title at senior level to show for it. Arguably they got a lot more from the teams from the 90s than the 2000s. Limerick U21s from the early 2000s are another prime example.

Imo minor success is the one that can cause a false dawn. You see countless very good minor plsyers fail to even make it on U20/21. But there are lots of reasons. Some fellas reach their peek at minor, it goes to other fellas heads

oneoff (UK) - Posts: 705 - 18/08/2021 10:48:15    2372631

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Cavan did a good job developing underage teams with their success at under 21 in the early part of the 10s though they seemed to struggle to develop a real marquee inside forward or two. Of recent times they do seem to have gone backwards and are not really even competitive. Oh the other hand their neighbours in monaghan seem to be doing all sorts of good things. Winning both minor at undet 20/21 ulster titles and have two schools competing at mccrory cup level. They also seem to have a few decent forwards coming through.

The more successful teams at underage in uister over last few years have been monaghan, derry and tyrone (down under 20s this year being a bit of an outlier). They all have decent county gaa training grounds. Donegal are probably next best overall and they have a nice set up now as well. I don't think cavan, armagh or down do though it's something that is in progress now for them all. Sligo have been improving quite a bit at underage and it seems to coincide with their development in Scarden. I suppose the point being is that good county training facilities do seem to help.

I would think county player development squads or county regional teams from under 14 up (maybe even under 13) would have to help both club and county if run correctly. Elite level players, particularly from smaller clubs will develop better when exposed to players of a higher standard at these squads. If that player is ultimately not of intercounty standard it shoukd help him become a better player for the club.

I suppose a good secondary school structure in a county could also work but not for some counties. It doesn't work that well in donegal for example as a lot of schools aren't that overly focused on gaa.

One thing that I have noticed is the physical size of some of the minors this year. Some have clearly done a lot of gym work and are oversized for their age. If they are doing it themselves then there's probably nothing you can do about. I hope though it's not a systematic gym culture as to me that's too young to be focusing on that. You want to be developing the skills of the game at that age.

Ulsterchamps_32 (Donegal) - Posts: 461 - 18/08/2021 19:07:46    2372834

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