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Football

Is it difficult to translate success from minor to U21 and senior level?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

21:26 29 Apr 2016

Mayo meet Cork in the Eirgrid All Ireland U21 final this weekend, with both sides displaying true quality in at underage level.

Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor has been described as a freak of nature by Aidan O'Shea, while Peter Kelleher has been one of Cork's stand-out players at U21 level.

James Horan and Brian McGuigan were on this evening's Off The Ball and explained the difficulty of translating success at underage level to the senior panel.

McGuigan shared his experience from his time with Tyrone: "At the start of the year everybody looks at you and thinks they're the team to beat whenever you win the minors.

"But when we won the minors in 2001 we never even thought of the minors at that time and that there was different men coming into the squad. We were lucky enough that we had the same nucleus of the team that we had at minors and we had Mickey [Harte] as manager. He was the manager at the time, so we had a lot of continuity.

"That helped us develop a bond as we moved up to U21 level. To show that it hasn't been done since shows how hard it is to retain that continuity and togetherness.

"Mickey showed a lot of faith in the minor lads and the fact that when we got to U21 level there were a few of those players that had drifted off the scene but Mickey had brought them back in at U21 level again. He was loyal to the boys."

"Mayo won that title back in 2006 and now a lot of that team are the mainstay of the Mayo senior team at the moment" said James Horan.

"There's 14 or 15 of that matchday 26 that have made it through to the current Mayo senior team. That's a very high percentage of what you'd typically see.

"I think you're seeing now fewer U21s at the senior team. Even Tyrone I think it was last year when they won the U21, two or three of those players were coming through onto the senior team.

"This isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you've got an understanding between the U21 manager and the senior manager have an understanding that the U21 side will train as a unit and build as a unit. The senior team might suffer for one or two league games, but benefit in the long run."

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