Torpey Hurleys have released their brand new sustainable Bambú hurley, an innovation in sports engineering that has been sculpted and shaped, behind the scenes, for the past six years.
Conceptualised in 2014, the Bambú hurley has seen many iterations in its journey and Sean Torpey admits that a number of different materials were used, such as polymer, in the run up to developing a fully sustainable hurley. An invasive alien disease called ash dieback accelerated the process and Sean took inspiration for the future of hurleys from the far East, where entire skyscrapers are developed from bamboo, proving that the material is both strong and flexible.
Sensitive to the traditional element that ash hurleys bring to the game, Sean now feels that it is negligible to know the difference between a Bambú hurl and its historical predecessor. Talking to The Clare Echo, he tells of how the new Bambú model embodies sustainability as well as detailing the meticulous journey that has led to its 2020 release.
The hurley is made predominantly from bamboo and a small amount of bio-based materials, Sean tells. The hurley is biodegradable and does not have any harm on the environment. Ash hurleys have gone back into the ground for the last one hundred and fifty years, with no detrimental effects on the environment, aside from the cutting down of trees. This was an important factor in the decision to use bamboo for Sean.
Deciduous ash trees take thirty-five years to grow. Cutting down trees isn’t a factor in the process of making a Bambú hurley. A bamboo tree grows at five metres per year and it can be harvested after five years. The Irish climate lacks the necessary humidity required for bamboo to flourish and so Torpey Hurley’s sources its bamboo from the far east, working with partners for a fair price, ensuring that a positive impact is felt for the environment and all parties involved.
Sean admits that Torpey Hurley’s has basked in the beauty of natural hurley making for the last forty to fifty years. On the feel of the new Bambú hurl, he opines, “Immediately we felt like we had something to work with. I don’t think I can describe the feeling of hitting a hurley and a ball, especially an ash hurley and a ball. I don’t think you can describe that in words. When you hit it, you know it’s right. When you use something else that you know isn’t made from ash, you know when it is wrong, definitely. With the Bambú hurley, we discovered something that is, I would say, negligible to notice the difference between an ash hurley and a bamboo hurley in terms of the feel and flight of the ball. It feels the same. The other thing we noticed is that the ball is actually moving a little bit quicker than how it would be with an ash hurley. We feel like we have a great product here.”
A rigorous practical and scientific testing process through several iterations of the Bambú hurley led to the final model. Sean notes that twelve hurleys were sent out to specific players on a trial basis. Out of a total of 179 training sessions and matches, only one single hurley broke. The next phase involved a number of inter-county players. The first one was John Conlon, a friend of Sean’s and a loyal Torpey user. Sean remarks how particular John is about his hurley’s, possessing great pride for his traditional ash models.
Not only was John interested in the new innovation but felt that it was something he could continue playing with. Seadna Morey, Tony Kelly and David Reidy have all been using the hurley since. Sceptical at first, David Reidy spent a lot of time with his Bambú hurley during the lockdown, having purchased from Sean in January. He quickly began to acclimate, noticing improvements in his striking and enjoyed the touch and feel of the hurley, Sean tells.
On the future of the hurley making industry and the gradual introduction of sustainable models into the game, Sean proclaims, “We would be a big believer in the Bambú hurley, we have it patented here, it could be great for everybody. We see this as an innovation not only for hurling but for sports in general. If you take a lot of other sports, a lot of the materials they use are not biodegradable or recyclable. We are already sold out of our first pre-order. We are delighted with the initial response and time will tell if people will uptake it more. Quite a few players were seen using it in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship, so we already see it making its way onto the field. It’s very satisfying for us because we don’t want to make something that looks like a hurley, but nobody plays with it. It’s great to see it getting across the white line.”