Victorious Derry minor manager favours return to U18

July 08, 2024

Derry manager Damien McErlain. ©INPHO/Tom Maher.

Damien McErlain called for the minor age grade to return to U18 after guiding Derry to back-to-back All-Ireland MFC titles.

The minor grade continues to be U17 at inter-county level, despite most counties having reverted back to the U18 for club competitions.

"Look at the U18 thing. No-one really explained it to me. The counties have all returned to U18 at club level, causing confusion for club and county groups. Someone has to take the bull by the horns – I think it should go back to U18,” the Derry manager told TG4 after his side’s victory over Armagh.

“It's just a better age and better fitness – I think there's too much of a gap between U20 and senior. The GAA haven’t come out and said this is the group that said this has to happen.

“The decision seems to have just come from a committee room, and I don’t see the justification for it. You can see clubs giving out that they have lost so many players because there's such a gap between U17 and U20, even to get lads ready for club football.

“I just don’t understand it. If they are using exams as an excuse, that’s not an excuse either because the boys are playing right through the exams, so I just don’t get it.”

McErlain would also like to see the All-Ireland minor finals back in Croke Park.

“A lot of my squad won't get the chance to play in Croke Park now. It could be before the All-Ireland final as I feel there's no build-up before it,” he added.

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