*Mark Rodgers may miss out on the U20 championship over the ruling. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
There is growing concern amongst GAA fans in Clare that the county will be forced into playing in the Munster U20 hurling championship without four members of the panel who are also part of the senior hurling squad.
In recent years, the GAA decided that football players common to senior and U21 (now U20) could not play with the U21 grade if they had played senior championship with their county and if their senior team was still in their championship when the U21s came to play.
This ruling was extended to hurling this year. Currently Mark Rodgers, Shane Meehan, Cian Galvin and Paddy Donnellan are members of both the senior and under 20 hurling panels in Clare and all four have seen action in the early rounds of the Allianz National Hurling League.
Galvin and Donnellan were in the starting team against Antrim in Belfast while Rodgers and Meehan saw action against Wexford.
Scariff’s Rodgers, whose father Ger is an under 20 selector, was an impressive second half substitute against Laois last Sunday in Portlaoise while Galvin was part of the match day panel for that game
The Clare senior hurlers will play Waterford in the opening round of the senior championship on Sunday June 27 in Thurles and win or lose, they will still be in the championship as there is a qualifier campaign in the senior hurling championship.
Munster Council have yet to confirm specific dates for the U20 championships but they have indicated that the competition will commence in early July which, it is understood, will be before the seniors play in the qualifier if they have lost out to Waterford. A first round victory over Waterford for the seniors will lead to a Munster semi-final against Tipperary on July 3, before the U20s play.
Shane Meehan is also a member of the U20 football panel and their first round Munster game is scheduled for the first week in July. It’s not clear if the current ruling applies to a player who is eligible for U20 in either hurling or football and part of his county’s senior panel in the other code.
There are three players common to the U20 and senior football panels. They are Cillian Rouine, Dara Conneally and Emmet McMahon. McMahon has been introduced in both of Clare’s league games this year. Clare play the Munster senior championship against Kerry on Saturday June 26, just over a week before the U20s are due to play
In the event of either or both of the senior teams exiting their championship before the U20s play, the players in question can play the underage competition irrespective of whether or not they played in the senior championship. The issue only arises if any of the players in question play senior championship and that team is still in the race when the U20s play.
Clare U20 hurling manager, Sean Doyle is very concerned about the possibility that he could have to name a team without what could be “the spine of the team. It’s very unfair that players could be deprived of playing in this age group, particularly for those who are facing into their last year eligible for this grade”, he told The Clare Echo.
This issue has revived memories of 1995 when Clare lost narrowly to Tipperary in the Munster U21 hurling championship in Thurles, a game they played without four of their senior panel. Back then the problem was of Clare’s doing as senior manager Ger Loughnane refused to release Frank Lohan, Ollie Baker, Fergal Hegarty and Eamonn Taaffe from the senior squad to play with the U21s.
In fact Loughnane took the senior squad to Croke Park for a training session on the same day ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final. Scariff’s Mike McNamara, trainer and a selector with the senior team, was the U21 manager.
Phone calls to current senior manager Brian Lohan to get his view on the matter were not returned.