Leitrim hurlers flabbergasted at proposed League exclusion

November 08, 2023

Leitrim's Joe Murray ©INPHO/James Crombie

Leitrim hurling manager Olcan Conway has described plans to exclude his side from the 2025 Allianz League as ‘mental’.

A proposal from the CCCC to omit Leitrim along with Cavan, Louth, Fermanagh and Longford was discussed at last Saturday’s Central Council meeting. CCCC are recommending that any county with fewer than five hurling clubs be excluded from a newly-structured Allianz League. Instead, they would concentrate solely on an expanded Lory Meagher Cup, with the money saved being set aside for hurling development in those counties.

While the proposal stems from consultation with the five counties, Conway cannot see the logic of it and says it’s unrealistic for a county of Leitrim’s size to sustain five hurling clubs for five years when there is no full-time hurling GDA - they currently share one with Sligo - in the county. Carrick and Glencar-Manorhamilton are the only hurling clubs left in the Connacht county after Ballinamore and Gortletteragh folded in recent years.

“It’s just mental. I don’t think people realise how detrimental to hurling in these counties this proposal is,” the Leitrim boss said in an interview with hoganstand.com

“We all want GDAs and proper coaching, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the players that are there. Why should they be punished in this way?

“We have to protect the players and the clubs that are there. There hasn’t been a full-time hurling GDA in Leitrim for nearly 10 years. We’ve been crying out for one ever since, but it’s fallen on deaf ears. The lack of foresight by Croke Park on this is incredible.

“What’s more, if this proposal is passed, we won’t be able to train until March when most of the lads will be back in with their football clubs. The population of Leitrim is so small that we’d never get up to having five clubs fielding for five years in-a-row.”

The Ballinascreen, Co. Derry native, who has been involved with Leitrim hurling for over 20 years, believes every county should have the right to play in the Allianz League.

“We reached a Division 3B final last year, despite our lack of resources. Where’s the protection for Leitrim’s hurlers? Every county should be entitled to play in the League at their level,” he continues.

“What’s the point in us playing in next year’s League if there’s going to be no League the following year? We have put a lot of work into developing young players in the Celtic Leagues who won’t have League hurling to play in if this is passed.”

Conway suggested that his players would even be willing to give up their travel expenses in return for improved coaching structures in the county.

“If our players were asked to sacrifice their expenses in return for two GDAs, there wouldn’t be one who would say no. They want to see hurling developed and nurtured in Leitrim every bit as much as I do,” he concludes.

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