Biting back: Less is more when talent is being nurtured
When Down's young gaelic footballers take the field against Derry in tonight's Ulster Under-21 Championship, they will be without Ryan Magee.
That's because Magee played on with a groin injury, through the closing stages of Warrenpoint's All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final. Down manager Frank Dawson feels that he could be better served by taking a long break for the good of his health, long-term.
Derry have not been spared either. They will be without Ciaran McFaul, the Derry senior who injured his ankle while playing for his club Glen in their recent Ulster Under-21 club final.
Antrim would love to have Donal Nugent. But he, too, is injured, having been playing both hurling and football at multiple levels for his St John's club and county since turning 15.
The tagline of the Ulster Under-21 football Championship is 'Pure Football,' evoking thoughts that this competition may have far more entertainment value than that of senior county football, which is drawing plenty of criticism.
That 'Pure Football' tag is merely an abstract wish.
Meanwhile, the serious muscular injuries for young men pile up in correlation to the amount of games and teams they are expected to commit to. Teenagers now see hip injuries as a by-product of their involvement with the GAA.
Which begs the question; is this a competition too far?