Following a lot of hard work behind the scenes by a dedicated group of people, the plan ‘20/20 vision for Longford’ - headed by former Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan - has been launched and will concentrate on improving standards of underage football in the county.
Sheridan is the current Longford GAA Games Development Administrator but whatever the future holds at inter-county level remains to be seen. At least the proper development of the promising young players (U-12 to U-18) is a positive step in the right direction and hopefully the plan for the county cause will succeed in making the desired impact.
But of immediate concern is the fear of the burnout factor and the general opinion is that there are too many underage competitions. A shorter season was just one of a number of points that was discussed at a recent fixtures forum as part of the 20/20 vision development plan and the members of that particular group were Mick Hand (Young Grattans), Benny O’Brien (Longford Slashers), Brendan O’Reilly (Colmcille) and Tom McManus (Killoe).
“Some competitions were allowed drag on this year, which can be very frustrating for the young footballers involved, and players welfare must be a priority. Maybe a more defined master fixtures list could be put in place to sort out a few problems in the staging of the games,” stated Mick Hand.
“Then there is the player burnout factor and obviously less competitions would help ease that serious concern. We studied all aspects of what has become a congested fixtures programme in the county and the removal of the Special Leagues is one of the suggestions,” said Mick.
The following is a brief summary of the most pertinent points following on from the recent forum and a matter for the County Board in the future planning of fixtures:
1. Shorter Season to be completed by All-Ireland/County Final date at latest
2. Alternative weeks for U-12/U-15 and U-14/U-18 fixtures.
3. Promote 15-a-side competitions to include Regional competitions
4. Removal of Special League Competitions
5. Each Competition should be completed before a new one can commence
6. Co ordination needs to take place with Primary/Secondary schools and Co. Board
7. Holiday Season with NO fixtures at any age group
8. Once a club opts for a competition it shouldn’t be allowed move up to another
9. Once format of a competition agreed at start - it should not be altered
10. A rule book for all competitions should be issued at start of season to refs and clubs