Frustration for coaches as minor and under-20 inter-county seasons are ‘paused’

Under-20 and minor inter-county clashes have been paused (Image: ©INPHO/Tom O’Hanlon)

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Underage coaches have reacted with frustration to news that the minor and under-20 inter-county seasons have been “paused”.

After the Government stated that inter-county games could proceed on Monday night despite moving to Level 5 restrictions for six weeks from today, it was widely assumed that underage grades were included in the exemption.

But, when a NPHET letter on Tuesday specifically stated that it extended to “senior inter-county” activity, the GAA sought clarification, with the Department of Sport confirming yesterday that no underage games can take place under Level 5.

A total of eight minor and under-20 games were down for decision this weekend, the All-Ireland under-20 football final between Dublin and Galway chief among them, along with another two for Monday night, though three games in the Leinster under-20 hurling Championship went ahead as planned last night before Level 5 kicked in at midnight.

The various competitions in these grades have been “paused until further notice”, said the GAA, and while there may be a window of opportunity before Christmas to play the under-20 football final, the other Championships had only just started or were about to get underway and it will require some creative thinking in order to complete them in 2021, should the GAA elect to do so.

The manner in which the matter was communicated to the GAA from the Government has left a sour taste in Croke Park

There could have been no qualms if it was made clear on Monday night that underage games were out of the question, though it was a further 36 hours or so before this came to light and it’s particularly disappointing for the Dublin and Galway under-20 players who had continued to prepare for the biggest game of their lives in the interim.

Galway chairman Pat Kearney said that while he accepts the decision given the gravity of the health crisis, “it’s very disappointing for the players and their parents who have put in huge effort”.

Offaly minor hurling manager Leo O’Connor, who led his side to an encouraging victory over Laois last Saturday and was preparing for a Leinster quarter-final against Kildare on Sunday, told RTE that the “lack of clarity on the situation has been immense”.

He added: “These young fellas are in school, they’re doing everything right during the day and when they’re coming in with us, they were temperature-checked every night.

“We had a marquee with the sides lifted up when we needed to chat to them so we were chatting to them in open air.

“Everything has been done to perfection, as best we can. It’s just very, very frustrating at this stage when you hear the word ‘paused’ and, due to the lack of clarity that has come out of this, what does the word ‘paused’ mean even at this stage?

“Are they going to revisit it in January? February?

“These young fellas, they’re under-18 years then when that’s happening so starting a competition, putting it on pause, it’s very frustrating for everyone and the parents in particular.”

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Sport

Filippo Giovagnoli targets Europa League points as Dundalk’s ‘kamikaze mission’ becomes fairytale

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli (Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

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Filippo Giovagnoli ‘kamikaze mission’ turned into a fairytale but he opens the book on a new chapter tonight.

Dundalk host Norwegian champions Molde at Tallaght Stadium in the first of their Europa League group games.

And their Italian boss wants to go one better than the club’s 2016 run under Stephen Kenny by beating their four-point haul.

Dundalk are away to Arsenal next week and then have back-to-back games against Austrian powerhouses Rapid Vienna.

Asked what a realistic objective was, Giovagnoli said: “To get points everywhere. To perform, do well and be competitive.

“We want to show everyone that Dundalk deserves to be there and we can perform at a high level. That’s our objective.

“Sometimes when you start a mission, it’s kamikaze. Then you jump into the dream and that becomes normality.

“Now this (group stage) is our normality. We have to perform on this stage.”

Giovagnoli was in bullish form before the playoff clash with KI and also the third round win away to Sheriff, predicting wins on both occasions.

Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli and assistant coach Giuseppe Rossi celebrate Europa League qualification
(Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)

It was no different last night and he said: “I see them working every day and they’re ready for this difficult task.

“I feel we’re going to have a really important performance and, usually, when we perform well something will happen.

“The players have a winning mentality. When the challenge is raised, they’re even more focused and they raise their level.

“It’s a quality that was already in this squad, we didn’t bring this, this was already here. We’re just facilitators for that.”

Dundalk were far from their best in the 3-1 playoff round win over KI but Giovagnoli put that down to the do-or-die nature of the one-leg tie.

Having qualified for the group, he expects his players will be more relaxed in this environment.

“It’s important that we control our emotions. If you don’t, you’re not going to perform and we want to control the game.

“If you’re not relaxed, it’s going to affect your technique, the accuracy of the pass.  Maybe you can be aggressive, but on the ball you’re not going to perform.”

But Giovagnoli sidestepped a row over the venue with Dundalk playing in Tallaght tonight before reverting to Aviva Stadium for the rest of the campaign.

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli celebrates the win over KI that qualified Dundalk for the Europa League
(Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)

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Dundalk were told that Aviva Stadium was unavailable because the Irish rugby team were using it for a kicking session ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy.

“For me it’s no difference,” he said. “I know my players are happy to play here (Tallaght). If they feel comfortable to play here, I’m happy too.

“We just hope to do well and make the fans and the town happy because of all the support we are giving us.”

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Sport

Tadhg Beirne raring to go with Ireland after comeback from broken ankle

Tadhg Beirne in Ireland training (Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

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Eight months ago Tadhg Beirne was rehabbing a broken ankle and watching the Six Nations from his couch.

Now he's primed for action as Ireland chase a bonus point win to stay in the title hunt on Saturday.

With Iain Henderson suspended, Andy Farrell has turned to the versatile Munster breakdown specialist to partner James Lowe in the second row. 

Beirne said: "It's completely bizarre really, it sums up 2020 doesn't it? It's a completely strange year and anything can happen.

"It's great to be back in, it's been a long road to get back here from where I was before Christmas.

"Back in February I'm shouting for Ireland from my sofa, probably still on crutches, got a boot on – and then eight or nine months later, have an opportunity to see out the season with them in the Six Nations.

"Look it's been a weird one, it's great for me, it's an unbelievable opportunity for me on Saturday.

"Unfortunately I know Hendy has a ban at the minute so it also leaves the door open for me to put my hand up.

"I just want to go out there and put in a good performance and contribute to a successful day out for Irish rugby.

Munster's Tadhg Beirne
(Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Beirne admits that it was a concern to him that he would miss out again. He returned for the last day of the regular PRO14 season in August but wasn't sure if he had done enough to convince Farrell.

"I didn’t have much time to showcase my ability over the last few weeks in terms of Munster," the 28-year-old said.

"I didn’t know if that was going to be enough after missing all of January, February. Luckily enough for me it was.

"It's always lingering there in your mind – have I done enough? Can I do enough to get into the set up?

"To be back, to be selected even in the squad was a big moment for me and, then, to get an opportunity to not only be involved in the 23 but to start against Italy in the Six Nations is huge for me."

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Beirne suffered the injury in a Champions Cup game in December and so while he has worked with Farrell before, this is his first time in an Ireland camp with the Englishman in the hot-seat.

"Faz has his own way of playing, he has his own culture and his own way of doing things, which is different," said the Kildare man. 

"That’s something everyone gets used to and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves in here and enjoying this new environment that he’s creating.

“It’s incredibly intense at times, when it needs to be intense and everyone’s working for each other and bouncing off each other in here, which has been great. 

"Thus far I’ve enjoyed it and long may it continue.”

Beirne is looking forward to reuniting with Ryan in battle, having first done so when they both played for Lansdowne before either of their pro careers took off.

From that moment on, Beirne knew Leinster and Ireland had a serious player on their hands.

"I think it was against Clontarf, in The Bull Ring as they call it," he recalled.

"I'd heard a lot about him from the Leinster sub-Academy. 

"He was a bit of a prodigy, he's certainly come out and proved his worth over the last few years and continued to do so. 

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"James is a phenomenal player, he's a leader as well, you can see that around the lineout. 

"He's been taking the reins in terms of calling. The development of him has been incredible. 

"What he has achieved in his short career…I had a chat with him the other day and he said he's still only 24. I was a bit shocked! 

"But I've a great relationship with him, I get on really well with him. If anything I'm probably learning from him even though I'm his senior – but that's just the type of player he is!

“He is probably one of the best second rows in the world. As I said, I learned from him, not the other way around, for sure".

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Sport