IT’S an exciting time for hurling in Britain, with new and emerging teams appearing across a number of counties.
In Warwickshire, the recent success of St. Finbarrs in Coventry has come after expansion in recent seasons across the codes.
The Holbrooks club formed a hurling team to bring the number of teams in the county to four and their investment paid off last month with a first Senior Hurling Championship in the county since 1988.
In Scotland the Ceann Creige club were founded in 2019 in Glasgow, within a long puck-out’s distance from Celtic Park.
By combining hurling with camogie and teaming up with local shinty clubs they have grown in sufficient numbers to take part in provincial competitions such as the All-Britain Hurling Shield, where they met and beat St. Finbarrs to finish third in the tournament.
All of which goes to show that, with the right structures and determination, new hurling clubs can thrive in what has traditionally been a football dominated GAA landscape.
A prospective newcomer to that picture is emerging in Warrington, where Ger Driver and Martin Lonergan are aiming to bring a fresh new face to the Lancashire hurling scene.
With Fullen Gaels in Manchester and Wolfe Tones in Liverpool, plus Yorkshire Emeralds across the Pennines in Leeds, the addition of another base for hurling can only serve to boost the profile of the game in the north of England.
There are challenges though, based between the two main cities in the north-west that have established clubs within close proximity, while Warrington is not traditionally a university catchment area for Irish students.
Yet the local ethos within the Cheshire town, combined with the support of local Irish social clubs and dancing groups, means that options are being explored by Lonergan.
“Warrington has a very community-based attitude towards sport with its history as a rugby league town, there are plenty of rugby pitches in the area which are ideal for 9-a-side hurling,” he says.
“The key for us is encouraging an uptake of hurling in schools, feed an underage programme and really take it from there – it would be great for us to become a hub that in the future develops young hurlers in the same way a number of local clubs develop young footballers.”
If you are local to the area and are keen to try hurling, or have children who would be interested, there are training sessions every Sunday morning at Victoria Park in the town (postcode WA4 1DG just off the Knutsford Road) – all ages and abilities are welcome.
There is a dedicated Facebook page if you want to find out more or make contact: search ‘Warrington Social Hurling’.