Back in February, County Board delegates in Laois voted to introduce an U-19 and U-21 championship in hurling and football.
2017 was supposed to be the last year of the U-21 football championship in Laois following the GAA’s decision to discontinue it at national level.
And while the competition was to continue at inter-county level in hurling, it was still envisaged that the U-21 grade would be done away with at club level in line with the football.
However, the decision was made to retain that competition for two years and run an U-19 competition also.
The U-19 championship began a month ago with a total of 17 teams entering – eight in the A and nine in the B.
The group stages of both competitions have now concluded but a grand total of just seven games have actually been played.
28 games should have taken place but there were walkovers given in 21 of the matches.
In the A, Ballyroan-Abbey and Emo-Courtwood have qualified for the semi finals – the latter without actually kicking a ball.
Emo-Courtwood received walkovers from Portlaoise and The Heath and then gave Ballyroan-Abbey a walkover in the final group game.
Ballyroan-Abbey also received a walkover from The Heath and played their only game last night – defeating Portlaoise 2-15 to 3-2 to seal top spot in the group.
In Group B, The Harps withdrew but the other three teams involved actually played their games.
Stradbally Parish Gaels lost to St Joseph’s and Portarlington while the Kellyville men won the meeting between them meaning they face Emo-Courtwood in one semi final and Portarlington will take on Ballyroan-Abbey.
And the picture is not any better when you take a look at the ‘B’ championship.
Group A involves Killeshin-Crettyard, Rosenallis, Ballylinan, Graiguecullen and Na Fianna Óg – where just two games have gone ahead.
Killeshin-Crettyard defeated Rosenallis and Graiguecullen while they received walkovers from Ballylinan and Na Fianna Óg to top the group.
Rosenallis received walkovers from all of the other teams, including Graiguecullen, meaning they will finish second in the group.
In Group B, Clonaslee-St Manman’s, O’Dempsey’s, Camross and Park-Ratheniska-Spink were all entered.
But just the game between Clonaslee and O’Dempsey’s went ahead – Clonaslee winning and thus topping the group setting up a semi final with Rosenallis.
O’Dempsey’s received walkovers from Camross and Park-Ratheniska to finish second meaning they will play Killeshin-Crettyard.
Now there are some mitigating factors here as to why this may be happening. Lads are in college, they are working and maybe this time of the year isn’t the most attractive to play football in.
The games have been played on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons so perhaps with lads working, returning home from college or playing different sports like soccer and rugby, it doesn’t suit.
Courtwood and Portlaoise are involved in Leinster club championships and players involved their may have decided to prioritise that over the U-19.
But the issue does not seem to be affecting U-19 hurling as the majority of games have been played in both the A and B competitions.
But with an U-21 competition set to begin in December, it is clear that this approach will need revision for 2019.
Because right now, there seems neither the appetite from the players or from the clubs to run both of these competitions and the whole thing has become something of a farce.
U-19 Football Championship Semi Finals
St Joseph’s v Emo-Courtwood
Ballyroan-Abbey v Portarlington
Killeshin-Crettyard v O’Dempsey’s
Clonaslee-St Manman’s v Rosenallis