The strength of hurling in Fermanagh has been growing steadily over the last number of years with the emergence of several underage teams.

And now another important step has been taken in this growth with the news that two new adult teams will now play competitive hurling.

Lisbellaw have been the standard bearers in Fermanagh for a number of years, but hurling enthusiasts within the county are hoping that the addition of more adult hurling teams will help build foundations for the sport here.

South Fermanagh Gaels and Erne Gaels are the latest adult clubs and they held their first training sessions this week for their players.

Kieran Farmer, manager of South Fermanagh as well as being on the Fermanagh Hurling Committee and the Ulster Council Representative, believes the two adult teams shows that hurling in the county is going in the right direction and the work from the ground up is coming to “fruition” at adult level.

“We were discussing it the year before last and talking about it and we sort of never really had the right time,” explained Kieran.

“In fairness to him, Emmett Conlon [Ulster GAA Regional Hurling Development Officer] was furloughed and while other people were sitting at home he took the bull by the horns and started getting questionnaires out to see if anybody was interested and what kind of numbers we had.”

53 responses came in and the club had over 20 out at training at Lisnaskea Emmetts pitch.

“We had responses from all over South Fermanagh which is fantastic and not just hurling clubs. We do have The Knocks but you had guys from Aghadrumsee, Roslea, Newtownbutler. It really is a team from all over the south of the county.”

And with players of all abilities coming out said Kieran: “We had two or three guys on Monday night who had never lifted a hurl before and they were treated no different than anybody else, just slowly go through the skills at the start.

“I mean one fella reckons it was 15 years since he last hurled so he may as well have been starting out new and that’s the way we are going.”

Kieran is grateful for the support from the clubs, especially Lisnaskea for the use of their pitch and he also has special praise for the tenacity Emmett Conlon has shown in getting these teams up and running.

Now Kieran wants the development to continue. A South Ulster League is in the pipeline for the two clubs to compete in as Kieran looks to a strong hurling community within the county.

“I remember when Fermanagh had two divisions in hurling. We had clubs from other counties wanting to play with us.

“That is something we have to strive to get back up to. I don’t think there is ever going to be enough clubs to have a full big league in your county but if you could use clubs fairly close by to bolster your own league it can only improve county hurling as well club hurling.”

At the other end of the county, the resurgence of hurling in Belleek has been growing steadily.

Rosie O’Reilly, hurling secretary for the Erne Gaels club explains that an interest at underage level six years ago has seen the club turn out its first adult team in almost 20 years.

“We had some young players interested in playing and they would go into Ballyshannon but when they got to 10 they had to register properly so it was suggested we start up.

“So we brought an U12 team and the fruition of that is we have developed into a senior team.

“We will have more coming through next year from the U17. It’s good to see and when we actually put it out there to see if we could get any other players quite a few have come forward to say they’re interested in playing.”

Rosie says the club is grateful for players who are travelling to the Donegal border for hurling and both herself and Kieran in South Fermanagh are encouraging anybody who wants to take up a hurl not to be afraid and get down for training.

“If anybody else is interested they are most welcome to come down and try it out,” said Rosie.

“People who come to us we are really grateful, because they have such a distance to travel. It’s great for them to come and join us.”

And both Rosie and Kieran agree that the more hurling clubs in Fermanagh the better.

“I thinks its going to help Fermanagh in general.” said Rosie.

“Our overall goal is to have four or five strong hurling teams in Fermanagh,” Kieran added.