By Kevin Regan
As everybody is well aware by now, a new Ruling which came into play in 2016 was that a first year Minor player can’t represent his club at any adult grade.
This rule has had a profound effect on most clubs, however in my opinion its most definitely a case of making the stronger clubs stronger and the smaller or weaker clubs weaker
Take my own club Leighlinbridge GFC for example.
Last year Michael Davitts- who are an amalgamation of Leighlinbridge, Old Leighlin and Ballinabranna reached the County u16 A Football Final.
A number of the stronger players on that particular side happen to be from Leighlinbridge and are now first year Minors.
As we are a Division 3 and Junior A Championship side, this influx of players would have been a welcome addition to our squad for this coming year, but instead they are not eligible to play unlike every other year up to now.
Old Leighlin have been a huge force in Carlow Football for the best part of a decade and may be able to afford to keep their new talent that extra year, but having said that they had a first year minor on the playing field in last years Senior Championship Final, in talented youngster Niall Roche, so they too are affected.
The other side of this argument is that it protects young players from a number of things, most notably player burnout and from the physical exchanges with fully grown men who by now are all flat out in the gym as well.
But a prime example of the statement which I made earlier about making stronger clubs even more stronger can be taken from 2015, with Mount Leinster Rangers young gun Chris Nolan.
Chris was a first year minor last year and set the World alight at Intermediate level by racking up huge scores in most games, while he also chipped in with three points from play when Carlow u21s lost out narrowly to Kilkenny.
Now i’ll cut to the chase. Last year Mount Leinster Rangers cantered through to the Carlow Senior Hurling Final and although St Mullins were victorious, MLR didn’t introduce Nolan to Senior Championship Hurling until that county final.
Everyone knows that if another club had a player of that calibre, he would be the first name on the team sheet.
So while younger players are more protected by the new ruling, the smaller clubs will continue to struggle.
It will be most evident when clubs are trying to field second and third teams, with numbers at a premium.
The ruling is most certainly going to cause plenty of debate as the season progresses and is definitely something to keep tabs on.