New Fermanagh coach Daithi Hand has been delighted with the response of the squad since he and Peter Galvin joined up as part of Joe Baldwin's management team for the season ahead.

When Baldwin took the decision to stay on he was keen to add hurling coaches to the set up and according to Hand, he sold the project well to the pair to get them on side.

"Myself and Petey met with Joe in September and he pitched a good marketing campaign to get us on board!

"To be honest, you always feel a bit apprehensive in going in because you never know what the moral is like or what the commitment is going to be like, especially after getting relegated the previous year. But the lads have been brilliant and have bought into everything that we have done. They are going really well and I would say that they are just hungry now to get stuck into competitive games," he said.

Fermanagh begin their NHL Division 3B campaign away to Leitrim on Saturday. Only for the likes of Fermanagh kicking up a fuss these are two of five teams who would have had no league hurling in a year's time if a recommendation to although them to only participate in championship and not league was passed.

"I was chatting to a manager of a more high profile team in the Christy Ring yesterday and he called Fermanagh one of the 'famous five'. I asked what he meant by that and he said 'you're one of the famous five counties that weren't going to be in the league from 2025 so every one of you now have a point to prove'. I thought it was very interesting," added Hand.

Fermanagh will have aspirations to achieve success in both league and championship but Hand stresses that will only come to fruition through hard work.

"Is there a capacity for Fermanagh to get back up to Division 3A? Yes, there is, 100 percent, no more than getting out of Lory Meagher - but nothing is guaranteed and it is going to come from hard work and wanting to do it. Talent is only a small part of it nowadays, 90 percent of work is done outside of training sessions by the lads."

In terms of goals, the medium term will be to reach that league final at the end of March but Hand states the the main focus now is simply on getting a result against Leitrim.

"You have your short term and medium term goals and the first step is this week. We won't take anybody for granted, we just want to beat Leitrim and take that approach to every game and hopefully we will be in a league final on March 31. That's our medium term aim but all that stuff is what is mentioned at the start of the year but then as you get into your pre-season and the competitive season comes closer you fixate on the next fixture and what needs to be done and who needs to be looked after and all that.

"Our main aim right now is to beat Leitrim this week," he said.

And he knows the importance of starting the campaign on a positive note.

"If we are lucky enough to get across the line it will be hugely important as it will cement all the good work that the S&C coach Aaron Smiley has done with the boys along with what Joe has done too.

"It also gives you a marker as to where you are in the overall context of things. Challenge games are brilliant to have but when it comes to competitive games it is a different mindset for a player. We've been tested in terms of the hurling in the McGurk Cup but now the psychological stakes are that wee bit higher because it is national competition.

"I have full faith though that the lads will do themselves justice because they have put in a good slog and I believe that if you work hard the hurling will follow. We have prepared as best we can and we will have our homework done on Leitrim and hopefully we can implement our gameplan and get the result," he concluded.