FERMANAGH and Louth county boards have both gone public with their opposition to remove them from the National Hurling League from 2025 onwards.
Those two counties, along with Cavan, Leitrim, and Longford, would be excluded on the basis of having fewer than five hurling clubs, with their only inter-county involvement being in the fifth tier Lory Meagher Cup.
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The Erne County expressed its “shock and disappointment” at the proposals in a statement issued after a County Committee meeting, and added that “We do not concur that we were appropriately consulted on a proposal of this magnitude.” Representatives from the county hurling team management and players were also in attendance.
Fermanagh argue that ensuring that their hurlers “represent their county on fewer occasions than other counties would be a travesty and detrimental to the development of hurling in Fermanagh.
“We call for a serious discussion on hurling resources within the smaller counties and again ask for a fairer distribution of funding to support hurling in Fermanagh.”
Louth held a meeting attended by representatives from across the county, including club and county players, coaches, and club administrators, alongside members of its Management Committee.
Their account of that meeting said it had “discussed a number of discrepancies related to the proposal document and in particular around spending figures to support the document.”
Both counties appealed for wider support in opposition to the plans, which will be voted on at the next GAA Central Council [Ard Chomhairle] meeting on Saturday December 2.
Fermanagh detailed the efforts that have gone into expanding hurling there over recent years:
“Fermanagh GAA have worked extremely hard with our small base of volunteers over the last number of years to develop sustainable hurling structures to allow the game to grow and flourish.
“This year along with our seven underage clubs we have three adult clubs participating in Championships. Along with our well-established hurling club of Lisbellaw St Patrick’s we were able to recommence our Junior Hurling Championship with Erne Gaels winning over Lisnaskea Emmett’s. These are small but important steps in the growth of hurling in Fermanagh, which we will continue to work hard to grow further.”
Fermanagh also pointed to the fruits of those labours, both collectively and individually: “We are extremely proud of the achievements our senior county hurling team especially in recent years, winning the Allianz League Division 3B title and promotion in 2022, winning the Lory Meagher Cup on two occasions (2021 & 2015) and reaching the final on three other occasions (2020, 2014 & 2012). We retained our Nickey Rackard Cup status in 2022 and narrowly missed out this year by a slim margin in a number of games.
“We also note the outstanding performance of Luca McCusker, representing Ireland, in the recent Shinty International with Scotland.
“The success of our County Hurling team has helped excite and encourage future generations of hurlers. This was clearly demonstrated in February in Ederney, following our hurlers’ win against Mayo in the League, with scores of young fans seeking autographs and photos with their county heroes.”
Louth want “all available avenues outside of the current proposals to be examined to find a practical pathway for our young Gaels to continue to represent Louth at inter-county level for years to come.”
The Wee County also called for “a serious discussion on hurling and its development within the smaller counties to take place in an open and transparent manner, one that allows for proportionate representation of our hurling fraternity alongside county officials.”