Sean Kelly: Time clubs grasped full extent of ash dieback problem

Former GAA President Sean Kelly claims clubs and counties haven’t grasped the full extent of the ash dieback problem and its potential impact on hurling.

Instances of the ash dieback disease which attacks ash trees have been reported across Ireland and Europe. It’s resulted in a rise in ash prices which hasn’t so far had a major impact on hurley supplies but could yet.

Speaking in an interview with European Parliament Radio, Ireland south MEP Kelly claimed GAA units aren’t currently concerned enough. “Not maybe as much as they should,” said Kelly.

“You’re only really concerned when the actual shortage occurs. But there is awareness of it certainly at Croke Park level and I think they would welcome an opportunity to nip it in the bud.”

Kelly has identified Cork-based specialists Treemetrics as having the capability to identify and help eradicate areas affected by the fungal problem.

“They have developed satellite imagery which can detect where the ash dieback is happening or likely to occur and then can help to remove it,” claimed Kelly.

“But to do that they have asked me to highlight that they would be requiring the assistance of farmers but particularly of GAA clubs to help them get down into the detail and to locate the places where ash dieback is likely to happen or is happening, get it removed and that will help to eliminate the disease. If that is eliminated, they can regrow ash and develop it.”

Asked if he believes a shortage of hurleys could yet be a problem, Kelly said: ’Absolutely. It’s a serious problem because once the disease takes hold it can spread rapidly. Through their (Treemetrics) satellite imagery, they identified this is happening.’

The Kerry man denied that he was using his position to lobby for work for a private company.

“The exact opposite,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t need to put pressure on any MEP to help develop their products. They’re actually providing a service because Enda Keane (company CEO) and the others are truly committed to Ireland and the GAA and this really is doing us a favour rather than putting pressure on us to do them a favour.”


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