Irish Grassroots Football

Football ‘tug of war’: When choosing means losing.

A tweet from Carlow GAA made headlines last week when it outlined the ultimatum issued to the Carlow/Kilkenny u15 football (soccer!) players regarding the inflexibility towards playing both football codes. The purpose of this piece isn’t to analyse that decision but instead to focus the discussion on the implication of a similar action if it is replicated for the new u13 National League, players being asked to specialise in one football code at age 11/12. The league is starting so the focus of this piece isn’t to argue for/against it but to start a conversation about best practice when it does, with a particular focus on early specialisation.

What are our youth footballers playing?

Whether either organisation like it or not, we have a very limited pool of players from which to engage in our sports. A scarcity of resources (in this case, players) can often fuel a hoovering up of youth for the purpose of discouraging them to play other sports and/or a fear of losing out on players, with various codes attempting to do the same it can lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ [1] where organisations/clubs attempt to identify ‘talent’ at an increasingly earlier age.

The irony is that we often admire cross-sport attributes at senior level, when Niall Quinn saved a penalty for Man City in 1991 we lauded his GAA background, people from Louth discuss Rob Kearney’s fielding skills in rugby as being honed during his days playing GAA for Cooley Kickhams. Yet there is often a culture of distrust between organisations and feelings of ‘ownership’ and exclusivity over players at under-age level.

Follow link to author Laura Finnegan to continue reading the rest of her piece:



I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary and @LetTheKidPlay

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