Whitehall hurl maker ready to go as return of sport looms

One man breathing a sigh of relief at the pending easing of restrictions on sport is Whitehall hurl manufacturer Adrian Moran.

Adrian and his son Jason (pictured above) got back to the business of making hurls three weeks ago, and have “a couple of thousand” ready to go for the resumption of games.

“It’s been an odd few months,” Adrian, proprietor of Moran Hurleys, told the Westmeath Examiner, explaining how most of his “bread and butter” business had ground to a halt. Much of the business he has done since March is the production of one-off tailored hurls for people who might never have picked up a camán before, but wanted a puck-about during the lockdown.

“Apart from the postponement of competitions, the cancellation of Tullamore Show and the National Ploughing Championships hit us hard. We have an exhibition at the ploughing every year, and it’s our best advertisement.

“You have kids from all over Ireland passing the stand, and all you need is one lad to ring a Moran hurl into school and it can go from there.”

Pre-Covid-19, the business went from strength to strength. Top hurlers like Dublin’s Fintan McGill, Westmeath’s Tommy ‘Jogger’ Doyle and Killian Doyle, and the Cork camogie team are using Moran sticks.

Cork, Adrian explains, is the county with the biggest demand for Moran hurls outside of Westmeath. When normal life resumes, he plans to target the Dublin market, where hurling is on the rise and yet, there are only two established hurleymakers.

“Dublin is the market I’m really trying to break into,” said the Ringtown clubman. “With that in mind, I’ve bought a specific lorry for trade shows and club visits. It’s a bit like a chip van, with the door opening at the side. Hopefully I can put it to good use in the near future.

“It’s not just Dublin though. I’ve had hurls going to Donegal, Belfast, everywhere. Hopefully when the restrictions ease completely there’ll be a good bit of pent-up demand.”

In January, Adrian – formerly manager of Westmeath’s U21 hurlers, and currently involved with Leitrim – went to the Ukraine and sourced a container-load of timber (some 90 percent of hurls these days are made from foreign ash).

“It was culled and planked for us and came in earlier in the spring,” said Adrian. “We’ve been storing the material in an aired shed, and keeping it in good condition for the duration of the lockdown.

“I built my own kiln drier here for drying timber. With the level of demand for ash, you’ll find that it’s always wet. It’s only when you start doing this type of work you realise the roads you have to go down to source timber, taking various things into account. Croatian timber, for example, is more brittle.”

Shortly before Christmas, Moran Hurleys was inducted into the Irish Guild of Ash Hurleymakers, which Adrian describes as “nice recognition” – and hopefully, one which will stand to the business in the coming months.

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