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Colm Keys: Tipperary bucked trend but majority of counties are switching minor grade back to U-18

Derry joint-captains Fionn McEldowney, left, and Cahir Speir lift the Tom Markham Cup after winning this year’s All-Ireland MFC final

Establishing a pathway for underage teams has long been a difficult conundrum for the GAA.

Traditionally even-numbered for the main competitions, the Association adopted a new policy in 2020 that saw a shift to odd-numbered grades, essentially making minor an U-17 competition and with decoupling at under-17 too, creating a clean split between underage and adult competition. With no overlap, fixture-making became cleaner and the most talented players had a little bit more protection from overuse at a critical age.

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