An empty terrace at Celtic Park at this year's Derry v Armagh SFC game (Pic: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)
Derry minor football manager Martin Boyle has called on the GAA to ensure full panels are able attend games, when the Ulster minor championship begins next weekend.
The Oakleafers host Armagh at Owenbeg on Sunday, December 20 after the competition was put on hold back in October.
Minor panels have always been restricted to 24 players on match days, with the remainder of the squad not allowed to tog out and forced to sit in the stand.
At senior level, it is 26 and it was something John Kiely spoke out about when members of the Limerick hurling squad were forced to watch their games on television at home.
It has been confirmed that only players in the named panel of 24 will be permitted to attend next weekend's Ulster minor championship games, with one parent of each player to also be included.
“It is such a harsh rule,” Boyle told the County Derry Post.
The Ballinascreen man commented how 'religiously' the Derry players have trained and pointed to the effort made by their parents in recent weeks to ensure they ferried to training.
“Now some of them won't even be able to go an watch the match, it is a very harsh rule. With the size of the grounds, social distancing will be no problem at all,” he said.
“It is a big enough blow for a lad not to be making the 24, but telling him he can't even go to the match, it is a total disrespect for the players and the effort they have put in.”
Boyle, who will be faced with the difficult decision of leaving 'up to a dozen' outside the matchday squad, has called on 'those in authority' to 'see sense'.
“It is a rule you'll have to follow through of it is there, but I'd like to think that common sense will come into play. I just hope it is changed before next weekend.
“Nobody would like it done to their son, so I don't want it done to any of these boys...for the shift they have put in.”
The County Derry Post asked Ulster GAA if there was any plans to amend the rule, enabling all players to allowed access to the grounds.
A spokesperson gave the following reply: "The association wide policy is for a panel of 24 only, plus one parent/guardian."
Croke Park were contacted to ask if there was any chance the ruling could be changed, based on a manager calling for it to be looked into. No response was given.
Check out Tuesday's County Derry Post for a preview of Derry's clash with Armagh.
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