Hurling Development in Weaker Counties
As part of the consultation process around the structures for the 2025 Allianz Hurling leagues,
additional feedback from some Counties focussed on the overall emphasis and spend on inter
county hurling versus progress being made in terms of broader Hurling Development.
There are five Counties who have less than 5 Adult Club Hurling teams participating annually. These
Counties, the number of adult hurling teams in each and their estimated spend on the Senior Inter
County Hurling team in 2023 are:
Cavan 3 East Cavan Gaels, Cootehill Celtic, Mullahoran (€142,000)
Fermanagh 2 Lisbellaw, Erne Gaels (€117,000)
Leitrim 2 Carrick, Glencar/Manorhamilton (€203,000)
Longford 3 Clonguish, Longford Slashers, Wolfe Tones (€182,000)
Louth 3 St Feichins, Naomh Monine, Knockbridge (€219,000)
One sample County in 2022 had two adult club hurling teams and spent in excess of €200,000 on their inter county team.
There were 29 players on the intercounty panel; 6 of these were from clubs OUTSIDE of the County
No fewer than 6 of the 23 players from inside the County FAILED to make the starting team for their
Club in that year’s County final.
While there is positive work ongoing in terms of Underage Hurling Development in these counties,
there does not appear to be any significant progress being made in terms of the number of teams
participating at adult club level where the investment on hurling seems to be restricted largely to the
Adult inter county team, with very little corresponding spend on hurling coaching or games
In fact the number of Adult hurling teams in these Counties has FALLEN since their County teams
began competing in both the Leagues and the Summer Championships in 2005 (previous to this,
these Counties generally participated in the Hurling League only). The GAA’s Annual Report from
fifteen years ago (2008) lists the numbers of registered Adult Hurling teams in the relevant Counties
as: 8 – Louth 5 – Leitrim, 4- Longford and Cavan; and 3 – Fermanagh.
It is abundantly clear that the current approach simply is not working.
There is no doubt the overall GAA spend on Hurling in these Counties is significant – on their senior
inter county teams alone, an estimated and cumulative €863,000 was spent by these five Counties in
- However the question has to be asked as to whether this spend (on roughly 120 – 130 players
in total) is having any developmental impact whatsoever, outside of a small coterie of players, and
whether scarce resources – both financial and human – should be redirected towards a more
fundamental goal of increasing the overall pool of adult playing numbers and teams in these
It is the view of the C.C.C.C that a significantly different approach is needed if the GAA are to
successfully develop hurling in these Counties in a way that can be described as sustainable. In
consultation meetings with representatives of these Counties, this fact was readily acknowledged.
Recommendation: Therefore the CCCC are proposing the following for the consideration of Ard Chomhairle and
implementation as policy from 2025 onwards
- that broadly speaking, any County with less than 5 adult clubs should participate in the Lory
Meagher cup only each year
- The Lory Meagher Cup should be confined to those developing weaker Counties
- This will reduce the inter county season length for those Counties from 6 months to 3
months; it is suggested that the additional three months should be used as a focus for
- To assist this, an investment package should be put in place to support Hurling Development
initiatives in these counties with the ultimate goal to raise the number of Adult club teams
participating in Hurling (initiatives could include the provision of coaches and equipment,
targeting of schools as a starting point for the development of hurling, start-up grants for
new teams etc).
- The entire project should be cost neutral versus current spend on Hurling in the affected
- Once Counties have been able to field 5 or more adult club teams for a period of 3 years,
they can be reinstated in the National Hurling Leagues
It is our belief that the investment package for these Counties can be cost neutral to the Association
and can come at no particular extra cost to the Counties themselves – i.e. all central resources
normally given to these Counties to help fund hurling league participation could be pooled to fund
the new Hurling Development initiatives.
It is expected that were this approach to be adopted, in the region of €1m would be available over a
six or seven year period – simply by redirecting current central funds – to fund Development
projects aimed ultimately at saving the game of Hurling in these Counties.
Note on Warwickshire and Lancashire
Both Warwickshire and Lancashire currently have 5 Adult club teams participating in their
championships. C.C.C.C did consider whether the participation of these Counties should be restricted
to the Lory Meagher Cup or not. However, representatives of the CCCC met with both Counties and
while it is clear that there are challenges for the future of hurling in those counties, there is no doubt
that both appear to be on an upward trajectory and recent initiatives – such as the development of
the Na Mic Tíre club in Lancashire – are testament to this. For those reasons, the C.C.C.C believe both
Counties should continue to participate in both the League and Championship for the foreseeable
future at least.
- CCCC to present Recommendation to Ard Chomhairle at November 2023 meeting
- Ard Chomhairle to take a decision on whether to adopt CCCC Recommendation as policy
(from 2025 onwards) or not at December 2023 meeting.
- If policy and idea of investment package is agreed in principle, Finance to establish exact
- Meetings to be held with the relevant Counties towards putting in place a plan to establish
how funding could better be spent if redirected towards coaching initiatives. Ultimate goal
ultimate goal to achieve minimum of 5 adult hurling teams per County
- If this proposal is adopted by Central Council in December, and if it is the view that the Lory
Meagher Cup is confined annually to the five developing Counties, the structure of the
Nickey Rackard and Christy Ring Cup will require to be revisited. As a guiding principle
however, the intention would be that teams in Nickey Rackard and Christy Ring would have
at least the same number of games as annually (between league and Championship) as
under the current structures.
Adult teams per County 2023
The list below details the number of adult clubs in each of what are perceived to be the “weaker”
Cavan 3 East Cavan Gaels, Cootehill Celtic, Mullahoran
Fermanagh 2 Lisbellaw, Erne Gaels
Leitrim 2 Carrick, Glencar/Manorhamilton
Longford 3 Clonguish, Longford Slashers, Wolfe Tones
Louth 3 St Feichins, Namoh Monine, Knockbridge
Warwickshire 5 Finbars, Mitchels, Erin go Bragh, Barnabas, Declans (Herts),
Lancashire 5 Wolfe Tones, Fullen Gaels, Na Mic Tíre (J), Cean Creige (Scotland) Yorkshire
Sligo 7 Calry, Coolera/S’hill, Easkey, N. Eoin, W. Gaels, Tourlestrane(J), Molaise
Monaghan 7 C’Blayney, C’macross, Truagh, Clontibret, Harps, Inniskeen, Latton (J)
Armagh 8 SHC = 5, JHC = 3 additional (plus 3 x 2 nd teams)
Donegal 10 Burt, Setanta, Buncrana, Mac Cumhaills, Eunans, Cl’aneely, Carn, A Ruadh, J
= Four Masters and Letterkenny Gaels
Roscommon 7 All 7 in SHC have a second team in JHC.
Mayo 11 Tooreen, C’Bar, B’Haunis, St Ciarans, J = Ballina, Moytura, Westport,
Claremorris, JB = Caiseal, Ballyvary, Gaeltacht Lorrais
*numbers based on Competitions Management Software