For all of the talk about structures in the senior All-Ireland championships, there is perhaps an even bigger issues brewing in the underage competitions.
Massive scorelines are becoming ever more common in the underage provincial championships. The issue is that it is all too often only one team contributing to that.
We had another example last night.
Cork took on Waterford in the Munster Minor Football Championship, a game in which the Leesiders were huge favourites for victory.
They certainly lived up to that tag, leading by an astonishing 24 points at halftime. Their opponents did not manage to get a score on the board in the opening half.
Electric Ireland Munster GAA Football Minor Championship Quarter Final
Half Time Cork: 2-18(24)
Waterford : 0-0(0)
— Cork GAA (@OfficialCorkGAA) July 21, 2021
Unsurprisingly, this scoreline resulted in some strong reaction on social media.
A fucking scandal https://t.co/gmt4ju8pM0
— Joe Brolly (@JoeBrolly1993) July 22, 2021
— John Connellan (@JohnnyRC88) July 22, 2021
Things did not got better for Waterford. While they would manage to tag on three points in the second period, the game would ultimately finish 5-28 to 0-3 in Cork's favour.
That is a winning margin of 40 points.
This is not the only similar scoreline we have seen in underage competitions in recent times, with similar results seemingly rearing their ugly head every year.
The reaction after the final whistle was even stronger.
Munster Minor Football Championship Quarter Final
Waterford (Port Láirge) : 0-3(3)
Cork (Corcaigh) : 5-28(43)
A tough battle for our Minor Footballers
Tonight just was not to be!
We remind you should you have nothing nice to comment please refrain from doing so!#deiseabú
— Waterford GAA (@WaterfordGAA) July 21, 2021
Imagine training your heart out all year to play inter county football along with the diets etc. And then get hammered by 40 points in the 1st round and that's your season. GAA need to do something about these mismatches quick or 90% of these young lads will be lost. #GAA https://t.co/qYuh6xEahj
— Dylan Myles (@DylanFins11) July 21, 2021
These scorelines are becoming a big issue now. https://t.co/v8rwaOOl1z
— Jonathan Higgins (@Jhiggins3) July 21, 2021
That poor Waterford keeper won’t be able to walk tomorrow after all those kick outs https://t.co/eya8lo07r9
— Willie Lee (@wjlkdy) July 21, 2021
This is a disgrace...
Not Cork or Waterford’s fault.
If my son was involved in a game like this, I would tell him to go play a different sport. @officialgaa your competition structures are a disgrace. This is where bullsh#t tradition gets you. These are actually children 👎👎👎 https://t.co/JiKhRTLPWI
— Ciaran Deely (@CiDeely) July 21, 2021
Have to compliment the Cork players and management for doing their business.
But the question has to be asked as to why @officialgaa and provincial councils are so interested in keeping "minor" as it currently is.
It is not fit for purpose.
2022 should be a new beginning https://t.co/W2nzFRzJfO
— Colm Crowley (@mrcolmcrowley) July 21, 2021
The issue here seems to come down to the provincial championships.
By keeping the four traditional competitions, you ensure that some teams will be much stronger than others. That means scorelines like this are set to be more common as stronger counties widen the gap between themselves and the rest.
Having a tiered system, as they do in hurling, could be a way forward as it would allow teams to face opposition of their own level. No young player wants to train for months on end only to have their season ended by a 40-point hammering against a side they never had a chance of beating.
Of course, the presence of provincial councils means removing those competitions would be no easy task. Despite this, the GAA has a duty to to give every young inter-county player a fair crack at the whip.
They've been ignoring that responsibility for far too long.