Disease in ash trees a cause of serious concern

The game of hurling could face a serious dilemma next year if the disease in ash trees continues to spread.

The game of hurling could face a serious dilemma next year if the disease in ash trees continues to spread.

The disease, Chalara ask dieback, has already wiped out most of the ash population in Denmark, Poland and Lithuania.

In the UK over 100,000 ash trees have been felled in an effort to stop the spread of the disease and the UK Government has also placed a ban on the import of ash trees.

The disease was identified in a forest in Leitrim recently. This was in an area where 5,000 imported ash saplings were planted in 2009. This was part of a batch of 35,000 saplings which were imported at that time.

In a major effort to curtail the spread of the disease the entire batch of saplings from the 2009 import has now been identified, felled and destroyed.

Both the Irish Government and the authorities in Northern Ireland are closely monitoring the situation and working in tandem with the Irish Guild of Ash Hurley Makers.

Irish Forestry Minister Shane McEntee has said that measures being put in place would make it an offence to import ash plants and seed from areas within the EU that are known to have the disease.

It is going to be a difficult time for hurley makers who depend on imported ash to a significant degree to manufacture the 350,000 hurleys which are purchased every year in this country.

Perhaps the ash can be imported from outside the EU, but that adds more costs to the process. Ultimately any increased costs will have to be borne by the clubs and players.