Martin Fogarty recommends developing hurling counties join forces at club level
By John Harrington
The GAA’s National Hurling Development Manager, Martin Fogarty, believes developing counties should amalgamate their club hurling championships for the good of the game.
Hurling is hanging on by a fingernail at senior club level in some counties with as few as three clubs competing in the Senior Championship.
That's why Fogarty believes that if counties pool their resources at club level it would make for much more competitive championships which would be a big boost for the overall health of the game.
“I think that long-term we need to wipe away the county boundaries in several counties and just devise new regions where you would have 10 or 12 club teams and make meaningful Championships,” Fogarty told GAA.ie
“So, a player can say, 'Right, there's 12 teams in this Championship, it's going to take a bit of winning'.
“Then you're not waking up in February in March saying to yourself we might have just one or two matches in August and that's the Championship.
“You take Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Longford - counties or even parts of counties that are geographically close. You could get 20 clubs and make an intermediate and senior championship of 10 clubs each where you'd have at least six matches to win a Championship.
“I think then it would be attractive for players to play the game and it would be attractive for guys to be over teams.
“Or even if you take Carlow, I think they have four senior hurling clubs. And I think there's five or six in Wicklow.
“Now if you joined the two of them together for a start, look at the Championship you'd have.”
Fogarty knows his proposal might meet some resistance in some quarters and says it’s only viable if there’s a buy-in from all the clubs who would be involved.
But having worked a lot on the ground in developing counties since being appointed National Hurling Development Manager two years ago, he’s convinced that the best way to raise standards is to ensure clubs have a greater quantity and quality of championship matches.
“You would have to talk to the clubs first and get a buy in for them. The last things you want to do is force something on to people,” said Fogarty.
“Having spoken to quite a lot of them, I haven't actually met anyone who would talk against it.
“The logistics and geography of it would be huge, so you'd have to get clubs interested first, then County Boards would have to come on board, and Provinces would have to come on board then too.
“It would take a fair bit of working out, but I think it could be done if the will is there.
“I'm after throwing it out to a few lads in these clubs and, while they like to be winning 10 championships out of 15, my opinion is that it's not really worth togging out for.
“I think it's the only way the game will progress in some of these counties.”