Fermanagh hurling manager Joe Baldwin says that they will fight tooth and nail against the proposal from the GAA Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) which if passed would see National League hurling abolished for five counties, including Fermanagh.

The proposal, which will go before delegates at Ard Chomhairle next month, states that any county with less than five adult clubs (Fermanagh have three, not two as the document wrongly suggests) should participate in only the Lory Meagher Cup each year, reducing the inter-county hurling season in these five counties from six months to three with it suggested that the additional three months should be used as a focus for hurling development with the aim of raising the number of adult club teams participating in hurling in those counties.

It continues that once these counties have been able to field five or more adult club teams for a period of three years they can be reinstated in the National Hurling League.

Baldwin, along with captain Ryan Bogue and Rory Porteous, will address Fermanagh clubs on Monday night on their position on the proposal and he stresses that the Fermanagh County Board are firmly against the proposal.

“County Chairman, Brian Armitage, has invited myself, our captain Ryan Bogue and Rory Porteous to a meeting in Fermanagh House next Monday night.

“We are not going there to lobby the clubs, we no doubt have the support of the clubs in Fermanagh, we are just going there to outline our position. Hurling means so much to all these boys.

“We look forward to getting into the meeting and being positive about the game we care so much about.

“The County Board have also been great, they have told us they will fight against it and we intend to fight this tooth and nail,” he said.

The Erne boss admits that he was ‘horrified’ when he read the proposal at the end of last week. Other proposals for the development of hurling had been circulated but didn’t include this.

“I was surprised, shocked and horrified, it has come completely out of the blue,” said Baldwin. “I was asked about five weeks ago by Tom Boyle, the County Secretary, to look at proposals to possibly move to a ten or 11 team league in Division Three.

“I talked it over with the management but we didn’t see anything wrong with the current set-up.

“There was no word about this proposal so for this to come out I’m just shocked. I just don’t see the logic in it.”

The proposal suggests that this is to aid the development of hurling in the five counties but Baldwin believes it is more to do with money than anything else.

“There is no doubt that it is a money issue. Within the first three sentences of the document, money is talked about.

“It is a money decision by money men who didn’t fully understand the impact it would have within these counties.

“And it is not just our counties, reading the proposal, you are not going to be allowed in until you have the five teams up and running.

“Look, we all want to see hurling development but you don’t develop it by taking away the very lifeblood for their senior county teams.

“In inter-county hurling you have an opportunity to win two competitions so to take one away from some counties is very unfair and it is discrimination.”

And he doesn’t feel that there is a lot of information about what the actual development that they will be voting on would consist of within the counties.

“It reminds me a bit of Brexit where you are being asked to vote for something without the nitty-gritty of it being put on the table. Certainly from my point of view and categorically what we are hearing from the players, the GPA and the Fermanagh County Board, who have been fantastic, is everybody is against this,” he said.

Fermanagh has enjoyed success in recent years, contesting four national finals in the last five years, winning two of them.

And in terms of hurling development in clubs in Fermanagh, it has been flourishing at youth level with six clubs currently competing at underage level in meaningful competitions.

Indeed, Baldwin has seen more and more young players at Fermanagh games with their hurls in recent times.

“You go back to the Mayo game in the National League last year, you saw the euphoria that day in victory and you saw the amount of children that were on the field carrying hurls and we want those children to aspire to be the next Luca McCusker or the next Caolan Duffy.

“The view here would be to take away the National League for Fermanagh would leave very few opportunities for the children to see these boys playing hurling.

“If you take away the league you might get one game in Brewster Park in a year.”

And he also believes that taking the league away will give less exposure to hurling in the county.

And Baldwin says it is important that they continue their fight.

“This vote isn’t taking place until December 2 and we are sitting here on November 14 and we have to keep this running and keep this an issue.

“We can’t let this die away. This is our very future we are fighting for.”