Fermanagh GAA have said they are “shocked and disappointed” at the GAA’s proposal that any county with fewer than five adult hurling teams should be excluded from the Allianz League and consigned to the fifth-tier Lory Meagher Cup only from 2025 onwards, and have called it for it to be rejected.
If Central Council passes the recommendation, it would see the Erne County join Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Louth with an inter-county season reduced from six to three months.
Louth are the only one of the counties that will play above Lory Meagher level this year.
Fermanagh GAA held a special meeting of the county committee last night to discuss the proposals from the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) on hurling development in weaker counties. Representatives from the county hurling team management and players were also in attendance.
The meeting was unanimous in calling for the proposals to be rejected and they have urged all counties to them in voting against the proposal at the Ard Chomhairle meeting on 2 December.
In a statement they said: “Fermanagh GAA wish to put on record of our shock and disappointment at the proposals. We do not concur that we were appropriately consulted on a proposal of this magnitude to remove Fermanagh from the Allianz Hurling League prior to them being presented at the Ard Chomhairle meeting of 4 November.
“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 Emmetts. These are small but important steps in the growth of hurling in Fermanagh, which we will continue to work hard to grow further.
“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.
“To deny our hurlers the opportunity to 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.”
The GAA said packages would be put in place to help raise the number of adult hurlers and teams in those counties if the motion is passed.
More coaches would also be provided to schools and clubs, with a number of start-up grants available.
The CCCC added that once these counties are in a position to field five or more adult teams for a period of three years, they will be readmitted to the Allianz Hurling League, where they currently compete in Division 3A and Division 3B.
The GAA is concerned that while positive work is ongoing at underage level in those counties, no progress has been made in terms of increasing adult participation. The number of teams has actually been trending in the wrong direction.
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