AT congress a new GAA president was elected – a Bishopstown native, by way of New York, in Larry McCarthy – and there were significant rule changes voted on, including a ban on the backpass following a kick-out.
Hurling black cards were shot down and the removal of the maor foirne role only fell short by 1%, among the headline-grabbing motions.
However, there was a significant change introduced for young hurlers that garnered little attention. An overwhelming 94% of delegates voted to “prohibit the use of metal bands on hurleys at underage hurling up to and including the U12s”.
The move is on the basis of safety, which was the basis of the motion at Congress from Tipperary.
Banding hurleys before they are used doesn't seem to be as popular as before and most kids using camáns start off with a clean bas. However, when a hurley cracks and depending on the break, banding and glue ensure it can be brought back to life.
It will be interesting to see how this is enforced. The Rebel Óg Go Games format which runs up to U11 in Cork involves young refs taking charge of blitz-style games.
At U12 a league is introduced, and an appointed referee. Banded hurleys with tape covering the metal may be enough.
The traditional ash stick is already under threat from ash-shortages, as the bulk of the ash is now imported, and the alternatives are increasingly popular.
The first synthetic hurley was the Wavin model that was marketed heavily in the 1980s but simply couldn't replicate the natural feel.
The Cúltec version, deployed at inter-county level by Dublin's Ryan O'Dwyer, proved far more popular across the last decade, while Reynold's variation was launched with the backing of Seamus Callanan, Richie Hogan and Neil McManus in 2017, though they use ash hurleys on county duty.
Here on Leeside, Mycro – based in Ballincollig – with All-Star centre-back Ronan Curran their figurehead have been very successful with the Evolution hurley. Bandon's Premier Plastics were involved in the technology behind the stick, giving it a very local feel.
While adults and teenagers tend to favour ash, the parents of the latest generation of five- and six-year-olds heading into their local clubs are embracing the 'Evolution'.
Pricing starts at €24.95, only moderately more than an ash hurley, and though they're not unbreakable Myrco argue they've a longer lifespan. Stocked in many sports stores alongside Mycro helmets, the expanded range offers a variety of colour grips and even sticks, with blue and purple now available.
Fitzgerald Hurleys in Araglen, the brand favoured by a host of Cork seniors, came up with a variation on the theme using a piece of laminate glued through the bas to make it stronger. This 'Lam-Hurl' was in the clutches of Seamus Harnedy when he raised green flags in the Munster championship in 2018.
With Fitzgerald's, O'Connor hurleys and Tony McAuliffe in Charleville, Liam Walsh from Lisgoold, Rathcormac's Denis Ahern, Eugene Sweeney (Kildorrery), Cork hurler Aidan Walsh and more operating in Rebel county, there are huge options in the traditional field.