The introduction of championship games at the under 19 grade in Carlow this year has garnered mixed views to say the least.
And last night a lot of those views were vindicated as all four Under 19 Hurling Championship opening round games resulted in walkovers occurring.
Naomh Eoin had been given the points from Carlow Town earlier this week and the three other games between Mount Leinster Rangers and Erin’s Own, Naomh Brid and St Mullins, and Ballinkillen v Burren Rangers were initially expected to go ahead last night.
Unfortunately Erin’s Own had to concede the game, while Naomh Brid couldn’t muster up sufficient numbers ahead of their clash with St Mullins either.
St Mullins subsequently received the points just before throw in but a challenge game between the sides did take place instead.
Burren Rangers were in a similar situation against Ballinkillen and a game of some description did take place, but again it was in a challenge match format to give the available players some sort of Hurling, with Ballinkillen picking up the points before a ball was pucked.
I was among those who were apprehensive about the introduction of this grade for a number of different reasons and I felt that perhaps things were best left at u17 and u21.
Up to this year there were a large volume of games anyway given the dual nature of the county and this year a new grade in both Football and Hurling had to be factored in on top of this.
Credit to Michael Whelan of Carlow County Board who has the unenviable task of putting fixtures together because that has to be a headache of an entirely different nature.
Another reason I was worried is because youngsters generally discover other things in life in around the ages of 18 and 19, be it travel, work, study and of course socialising, and this was always a difficulty for clubs down through the years with the under 18 grade but the under 19 grade adds to this I think.
Carlow Hurler Paul Coady spoke very well lately on my Monday Night Sports show about his genuine concerns for Hurling within the county going forward.
He felt that Carlow needs a lot more designated Hurling Coaches appointed for the areas in which the game is struggling in the county and feels that a lot more financial backing should come from the GAA in general for counties like Carlow.
There’s a lot of merit in what he said.
The four team Senior Hurling Championship begins this weekend in Carlow which is obviously not ideal for anyone involved.
Is it any great surprise that the four clubs that received walkovers in the under 19 grade on Wednesday evening are the exact same clubs that will be plying their trade at senior level this weekend?
I think that tells it’s own story.