Croke Park chiefs should come and watch Fermanagh hurlers play to see what it means to us: Ryan Bogue

Lory Meagher title as big as gaining promoted to Rackard tier

Fermanagh captain Ryan Bogue will lead his men into battle against Donegal at Maguiresbridge tomorrow. Picture by Sportsfile
Fermanagh captain Ryan Bogue will lead his team-mates out onto Croke Park to face Longford in the Lory Meagher final on Saturday Picture by Sportsfile

FERMANAGH hurler Ryan Bogue has invited members of the GAA’s Central Competitions Controls Committee [CCCC] to attend one of their games so that they might think twice about proposing to abort the lower leagues of inter-county hurling again.

Bogue will captain the Ernemen in Saturday’s Lory Meagher decider against Longford at Croke Park in their bid to win a third crown, following up on their 2015 and 2021 successes.

Last November, the CCCC proposed that the lower hurling leagues should be done away with and that the money currently being spent by the respective county boards could be used to grow the game at juvenile level.

The senior hurling inter-county teams in Cavan, Fermanagh, Longford, Leitrim and Louth would have been affected.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal was shot down in flames.

The lack of national media coverage afforded to the smaller hurling counties used to bother Bogue – but it’s more the perceived apathy towards them from the GAA’s top brass that annoys him.

“Years ago, it [the lack of media coverage] would have bothered me - but it doesn’t anymore. We really enjoy what we do. We love training. We love playing games.

“A lot of the big teams aren’t getting coverage because of GAAGO [pay-walled games] but there are cracking hurlers in the Joe McDonagh and the Christy Ring which are not getting coverage either, and they’re further up the ladder.

“We get plenty of coverage from our local newspapers, our county PRO Deirdre Donnelly is very good. The lack of coverage wouldn’t bother me as much compared to what’s being done by Croke Park for these counties.”

On the CCCC’s proposal that died a death almost as soon as it was leaked out, Bogue said: “It was a pure money-saving tactic.

“It’s probably something they’ll revisit in three or five years – it’s just crazy to come out with that idea.

“I would just love somebody from the CCCC to come and have a look at one of our games. For them to take that away from us… come and watch us to see what it means. Don’t get me wrong, it costs money but that’s not what it’s about.”

Noamh Enna's Ryan Bogue, in possession, has been a key cog in the Antrim champions wheel this season after transferring from Lisbellaw
Ryan Bogue, in possession, was an important player for St Enda's where he won an Antrim Intermediate and Ulster title

Bogue was part of the Fermanagh team that beat Cavan in the Lory Meagher final in 2021. In recent years, he lined out for St Enda’s, Glengormley in the Antrim Leagues before deciding to return to his native Lisbellaw this season.

He won a Antrim and Ulster intermediate with St Enda’s under Terence McNaughton in 2019. He spent a year in Australia before playing two more seasons with the Hightown Road club.

“I loved every minute of my time at St Enda’s,” Bogue said.

“I was playing with a good group and playing at the best standard of hurling in Ulster. That was one of the reasons I went there, to test myself and see how I got on there.”

Living in Moira, it was always his intention to return home to play his last few years with Lisbellaw.

“Once I had the decision made to go back to Lisbellaw, I was content with it. It would have always been in my head even when I went to St Enda’s.

“Lisbellaw are playing in Ulster Intermediate the last couple of years and it’s tough and hard for me to watch, especially when they got beaten by Carrickmore in extra-time. I had my decision made then. I wanted to go back and try and contribute whether that was playing or being a sub for my home club.”

The highlight of 34-year-old’s hurling career was winning an Ulster intermediate with his home club back in 2012 and he reckons Saturday’s Lory Meagher final will be “right up there” should they beat Longford – a team they’ve already beaten (in Division 3B) and drawn with (in Meagher group stages) this season.

“In 2012, we won Ulster Intermediate with Lisbellaw - nothing will ever top that because we came out of nowhere that year.

“But the Lory Meagher would be one of the biggest games so far. Promotion to the Nickey Rackard is a huge incentive too and we’d feel we’re good enough for that level.”

Bogue missed last Friday night’s meet-the-players event at Lissan due to his partner giving birth to their first child.

“I suppose no matter what happens on Sunday, you’ll still go home to look after the baby. But it’ll be great to get the win the final too,” he said.