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Ending Inter County Vocationals’ Competition Is Wrong
The decision by the powers that be to discontinue the inter county Vocational Schools competition was met with considerable disbelief and disappointment across the whole province of Ulster. This particular competition has always been very popular throughout the north and in the recent past it has been dominated at national level by Monaghan, Donegal and Tyrone. It appears that Vocational Schools football is not as popular in the provinces of Leinster and Connacht as it is in Ulster and Munster and that situation has played a role in the axing of it as a national competition. If that is the case perhaps it might have been better to spend some money encouraging those counties where it needs to be developed to up their game rather than abandoning the whole competition. Denying young lads the chance to represent their county and their school is hardly the way to go about promoting our games or encouraging our young people to become involved in the GAA.
From a Tyrone point of view, and I am sure it is the same in other counties, being chosen for the Vocationals team was a great honour and in some cases was the forerunner for selection on county minor and senior squads. Peter Canavan is one of many players who first came to prominence with the Tyrone Vocational and won two All Ireland medals with them in 1988 and 89 before going on to greater things. He knows the value of the experience gained from playing Vocationals football and in his role as coach of Holy Trinity College would be keen to see the competition retained.
Unfortunately the decision has been taken and it is unlikely to be reversed so this year will mark the end of it as a national competition. It could well be the first of many changes in schools football which might eventually see just one body overseeing and organising schools football throughout and the days of stand-alone competitions for the vocational schools and the colleges or grammar schools could well be coming to an end.