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Hunt claims vacuum created by no U21 hurling team

Story by Damian McCarney

Thursday, 24th January, 2013 1:05pm

Hunt claims vacuum created by no U21 hurling team

Damian McCarney

The manager of the Cavan minor hurling team has voiced his frustration that there will not be an U21 team this year and claims that it will create a vacuum for older players.

Minor manager, John Hunt said that having met with the County Board, he had expected that there would be an U21 competing this year. However, the chairman of the Cavan County Board, Tom Reilly, confirmed to The Anglo-Celt that they would not field a team, as they would not yet be able to compete at that level.

"I am disappointed," John Hunt told the Celt for an extensive article on the health of hurling. "We spoke about this last year with the county board and I assumed from my conversation there was going to be an U21 team.

"I know the county board was apprehensive because they thought we wouldn't have a strong enough team, but I think that putting an U21 team together this year we would be very competitive and very strong, and all would boil down to the preparations we would get in."

John Hunt oversaw his team make it to the last year's final of the Minor C Championship in which they were well beaten by Fingal in Ashbourne. He fears that the absence of either a senior or U21 hurling team will create a vacuum for the players from last year's Minor team who are too old to play at that grade this year.

"This year we have lost eight-10 players from the minor panel of 2012 because they are over age. If the U21 team is up and running, I'm sure they will be happy to have that, but I'd hate to see them being left in a vacuum for the next two or three years and not being able to play the game at some level."

Chairman Tom Reilly accepted that the possibility of a vacuum was considered, but upon weighing it up, decided that putting a very young U21 team out could cause bigger problems.

"We identified that [creating a vacuum] as a problem and we looked at it," said Mr Reilly. "But there's no point putting in an U21 team that's going to get flogged by players of 21, when they [Cavan] are only 19. That's the kind of road we went down before."

Mr Reilly also noted that a development squad had been established, which would embrace this age group, and contended that the greater availability of club hurling at senior level would offer some compensation for those who don't have the option to play at county level. He was referring to Mullahoran and Ballymachugh's expected participation in this year's cross-county Tain League.

For an article on the health of Cavan hurling, see this week's Anglo-Celt newspaper, pages 26-27.

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