Wednesday 17 January 2018

Future of clash of the ash is out of this world as GAA goes high tech

Dara Ó Cinnéide on ‘GAA Nua’
Dara Ó Cinnéide on ‘GAA Nua’

Lynne Kelleher

An enterprising businessman has developed a revolutionary hurley that is made of a composite material used in the aerospace industry.

Newry hurley maker Barry Reynolds, whose father made traditional ash hurleys, said he has spent the last five years working on a man-made hurley to emulate the ancient sports stick.

There is concern about the production of the 350,000 new hurls needed every year with the onslaught of the Ash dieback disease in recent years.

Mr Reynolds's prototype hurl is one of a number of innovative features that former Kerry star Dara Ó Cinnéide probes as part of RTÉ's compelling new series 'GAA Nua', which also looks at futuristic shorts that will be able to monitor every muscle movement.

Mr Reynolds explained how he was inspired to try create something new.

"It's a composite that's used in the aerospace industry and we got it and tweaked it and adapted it. Sometimes it was too flexible, too stiff, sometimes too heavy", he said in the documentary.

"The oldest sport in Europe, 3000-plus years old, and now we're using machinery like this," he said as he took a hurley off the assembly line in his factory.

"What we set out to do was not to make some sort of new hurley. Ash is unique. There is nothing in the synthetic or natural world that is quite like it.

"We wanted to emulate Irish ash, the long, soft growing season that gives Irish ash that wonderful flexibility.

"It's a difficult balancing act but I think we got there."

Meanwhile, one of the country's top exercise scientists has predicted all field players in Ireland will soon be togging out in the futuristic shorts.

GAA stars will simply have to tog out to get their own personal trainer in the future - in super shorts which will collect data on how they performed on the pitch.

Exercise physiologist Liam Hennessy - who has coached Padraig Harrington and the Irish rugby team - said science is helping to advance field sports like GAA.

"These are the shorts of the future," he said. Heart-rate and electromyography (EMG) sensors, built into the fabric track the electrical activity of the muscles and translate the data into a form that's useful for the wearer.

Irish Independent

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