Dual minors had better chance of progressing at senior level for Tipperary
By Shane Brophy
Players who played both minor hurling and football for Tipperary had a greater chance of progressing onto play at senior level.
With the issue of underage players being allowed to develop in both hurling and football a live one, the Nenagh Guardian looked to undertake a study from the six years from 2010 to 2015 when dual players were allowed in the minor grade.
The study found that of the 33 players who represented Tipperary in both hurling and football at minor level, 19 (58%) have so far gone on to play either senior hurling or senior football for Tipperary.
Ten of those players have played both made a senior hurling and football panel at some stage subsequently; Seamus Kennedy, Liam Treacy, Bill Maher, John Meagher, Colin O’Riordan, Steven O’Brien, Paul Maher (Kilsheelan/Kilcash), Willie Connors, Paudie Feehan and Colin English
Four of those dual minors (Niall O’Meara, John McGrath, Mark Kehoe, Dylan Fitzelle) have gone onto play senior hurling only, while five have played senior football only (Josh Keane, Ross Mulcahy, Emmet Moloney, Liam Fahey, Stephen Quirke), leaving fourteen dual minor players (42%) that didn’t go onto play at senior level at all.
58% is a very high percentage and certainly indicates that pursuing both codes at minor level didn’t inhibit their chances of playing at senior level, in fact it benefitted it.
With the new GAA calendar set to propose the inter-county minor hurling and football championships to be run concurrent to one another, accommodating dual players will be almost impossible. However, the figures do indicate that the more players that are allowed to play both codes at development squad level (up to under 16), the greater the chance they have of progressing to play either senior hurling or football, even if they have to prioritise one code at minor level, as the under 20 grades will have separate windows in the calendar which would allow for dual players at that level once again.
In a further breakdown of the figures, 129 players (including dual) have been part of Tipperary minor hurling panels from 2010 to 2015, from which just 15 (11%) have gone onto play senior championship hurling up to last year, while another 30 (23%) have been part of the senior hurling panel, leaving 85 (67%) that didn’t go onto senior level.
Fifteen players going onto play championship over the past decade does seem a poor return for a hurling first county such as Tipperary, which goes to show how hard it is to progress onto play at the highest level. It also provides further evidence of just how good the minor cohort from the 2006 & 2007 All-Ireland winning teams, that have backboned the senior panel over the last decade, have been where the younger brigade haven’t been good enough to take their places on the team.
The retention rate in Gaelic football from minor to senior was slightly higher where of the 129 players (including dual) who played minor from 2010 to 2015, 27 (21%) have gone onto play senior championship football so far, while another 22 (16%) have made a senior football panel at some point, leaving 84 players (65%) who didn’t go onto play at senior level.
Now some players have crossed over to the senior hurlers and back, but have 35% of minor players tasting some level of senior football is very high indeed, particularly when you take the 2011 All-Ireland Minor winning panel where of that 31-man panel, 16 players have played senior football at some point or other over the past decade and it would have been one more with John McGrath likely to easily have played senior inter-county football if he hadn’t made such an impact with the hurlers.
Dual Minors who made a Tipperary Senior Hurling & Football panel (10)
Paul Maher (Kilsheelan/Kilcash)
Dual Minors who made a Senior Hurling panel only (4)
Dual Minors who made a Senior Football panel only (5)
Dual Minors who did not progress to play Senior Hurling or Football (9)
Minor Hurlers that have progressed to play Senior Championship Hurling (15)
Minor Hurlers that played National League and/or made Senior Hurling panel (30)
Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy)
Paul Maher (Kilsheelan/Kilcash)
Mark Russell (played minor football)
Paul Shanahan (played minor football)
Minor Hurlers that did not progress to play Senior Hurling (72)
Minor Footballers that have progressed to play Senior Championship Football (27)
Minor Footballers that played National League and/or made Senior Football panel (22)
Minor Footballers that did not progress to Senior Level (67)