Crash of the ash? Deadly fungus threatens future of hurleys in Ireland
It sounds like an incredibly bad horror movie title, but it is in fact a very serious fungus threatening the livelihood of hurley makers in Ireland.
According to the The Irish News, Ireland is in danger of being hit by a deadly fungus which has already wiped out 90 per cent of ash trees in Denmark and could have a similar impact on these shores if it took hold.
The fungus, chalara fraxinea, causes leaf loss and dieback of the tree's crown and can kill ash trees. Trees affected by the fungus have been found in Britain, where a ban could be imposed on importing trees to prevent it from spreading further. Around five million ash trees have been imported to the UK since 2003.
If the fungus did spread to Ireland it would have a profound effect on the hurley-making industry, which is worth approximately €5 million Euro to the Irish economy annually, with the likes of Joe Canning and former Cork hurler Ben O’Connor just two of the many involved in the industry in this country.
Commenting on the threat of the fungus, Antrim-based hurley maker Michael Scullion told The Irish News: "We're not like Nike or something which could absorb a hit.
"This is basically a cottage industry, just one or two-man operations. Most of us are just living day-to-day really so it would be devastating for us."
For the sake of hurley makers like Scullion, Canning and O’Connor and for the sake of hurling in general, we can only hope that it doesn’t end up having any effect around here.