Ash-made hurleys are arguably one of the most distinctive parts of GAA culture; they are a unique symbol of the heritage of Gaelic games.
However, the ‘clash of the ash’ may be no more in the near future with falling ash supplies and innovative technologies making the production of wooden hurleys less and less viable.
While we can brace ourselves for an almighty backlash from the purists who can never see a day where the 30 players taking to the field use hurleys made of synthetic materials, the GAA’s director of games development and research Pat Daly has told the Irish Examiner that it doesn’t look like the manufacturing process is going to be able to continue in its traditional guise.
“What is going to happen is technology is going to change, the production process is going to change and the potential will be around a carbon fibre hurley or fibreglass hurley or some man-made element of hurley incorporating fibreglass and ash. I think that could become a realistic option.”
The national newspaper points out that there is a very small amount of ash being grown in Ireland at present and prices are going to escalate, meaning that alternative companies producing man-made products will be at an advantage.
“The Irish Guild of Ash Hurley Makers would be fairly insistent that ash should continue and the sole product used for hurley manufacturing.
“If it was that simple, fine. They also appreciate costs are escalating. You’re going to meet a tipping point at some stage where the cost, the supply, is countered by some alternative.
“That’s what we’re looking at. We’re not actively promoting it but we have to look at other options. You could pass that turning point in terms of supply of ash, cost of the hurley. Other alternatives have to be looked at.”
For those of us who grew up only knowing of hurleys made from ash, it will certainly come as a shock to the system should a day ever come when fibreglass and carbon fibre technologies overtake the age-old material of choice, but unfortunately it does appear to be heading in that direction.
Rob Lyons. Pundit Arena