Páraic Duffy has used his annual report to once again tackle the issues of player burnout and over-training, as he outlined a compromise U20 football championship that he says will ease the "intense pressures" on young players without damaging their pathway to senior level.

In November, Duffy released a paper which recommended, among other measures, abolishing the U21 championship and changing minor to an U17 competition.

He has conceded that that proposal led to worries that ending age-group competitions at U17 would leave a potentially harmful gap up to senior level, and detailed a compromise of an U20 competition with no replays and a sudden death free-taking competition in the event games finish level after extra-time.

"There was a widespread concern at the gap that would be created in an elite football player’s development pathway by ending age-based inter-county competition at U17," Duffy writes.

"This has led to the revised proposal to create a developmental U20 competition that would eliminate some of the difficulties currently facing elite players in the U21 grade.

"There will be no replays. Extra-time, if inconclusive, would be followed by a ‘sudden death’ free-taking competition."

"The revised proposal envisages a new U-20 football championship, starting in 2018 and to be played primarily in July.

"The competition would begin in the last week of June in Leinster [the first round] and Ulster [the preliminary round] and in the first week of July in Connacht and Munster, with the All-Ireland final taking place on the
August Bank Holiday weekend.

"Under the rules, all games will finish on the day – there will be no replays. Extra-time, if inconclusive, would be followed by a ‘sudden death’ free-taking competition."

In the lengthy report, Duffy reflected on the structure of the hurling league and championship, the state of Gaelic football and the need to "accept the inevitable" and abolish the Interprovincial Championships.

"I can appreciate that there are benefits for the stronger counties in a top division of eight, but the structure of two divisions of six seems to provide the best opportunity to help a few more counties reach the elite level," he writes of the NHL.

"It does mean that some counties that believe they belong in the top tier are being asked to accept what is, for them, a less than ideal structure in order to assist in the long-term development of hurling. It is a debate that is likely to continue for some time.

"Maybe now is the time to accept... that the [inter-pros] have no viable future."

"Where the All-Ireland senior hurling championship was concerned, it was the view of most that the present system should be retained. Galway had proposed an open draw rather than a provincial-based system, but accepted that the consensus was that the current structure should be retained."

Of the much-maligned inter-pros, the Monaghan man writes: "Maybe now is the time to accept the inevitable: our crowded playing calendar and a lack of interest among players and the public tell us that the competitions have no viable future.

"The 2013 competitions [six games] attracted total gate receipts of €12,220, a figure that fell to €7,126 in 2014.

"Both competitions were scheduled for December 2015. Weather conditions led to their postponement. But, in any case, given the number of elite players who had already indicated their non-availability, the signs for a renewal of public interest were not good."

In his conclusion, Duffy expands on the possibility of structural changes but calls for a willingness to accept "what is and not with what ought to be or might have been".

"Where the structure of the football championship is concerned, once we decided – after long debate – to retain the provincial system, options were limited.

"And it is unlikely that hurling structures will change. If we do decide to change structures at Congress, the task will be to explain and market the new structures and to do our best to have them fulfil their potential. 

"In the anxious times we live in... we can draw solace from the local, the small, the community, the club."

"But if we decide not to change the structures, then let us accept the current structures as the best that are available to us, accept what has been agreed, and accept, too, that it is time to stop talking about structures and to deal with what is and not with what ought to be or might have been.

"Our time and energies will be needed to face the many other issues we need to address."

Duffy also talks about the importance of the overall values of the GAA, and says the Association must continue to "draw its strength" from the power of the community.

"It seems to me that the choices we have made and the practices we have allowed to develop have led us to a point in the Association’s development where we need to ask ourselves a fundamental question about our essential values, about what is the Association’s most important work.

"In the anxious times we live in, where the global and international seem to equate mostly with menace and distress, we can draw solace from the local, the small, the community, the club.

"This is where our Association began, where it lives and from where it draws its strength."

Listen to Dublin v Kerry live on RTÉ Radio 1 from 6.55pm on Saturday and watch highlights from the first round of Allianz Football League action on 'League Sunday' at 7.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.