Should ‘clash of the ash’ be a thing of the past?

Sports scientists Mark Ramsbottom, Thomas Duff, Tony Brennan, Laura Miller, Hanah Daly and Niamh McKitrick pictured with star hurler and teacher Michael McEvoy at Timahoe NS.
That is the question being explored at Timahoe National School for the 2015 Young Scientist competition.

That is the question being explored at Timahoe National School for the 2015 Young Scientist competition.

And who better to guide the mini-scientists than Clough Ballacolla Captain and former Laois star, teacher Michael McEvoy.

It is the fourth time for the school to be one of a hundred schools to earn a place at the prestigious science event held at the RDS every January.

While other years’ topics focused on the environment, this is the first time for the project to look at sport.

It is a perfect fit according to sports enthusiast and principal Ann Bergin.

“I am thrilled for the pupils and their teachers, and I am especially proud of the school’s record in this competition,” she said.

Using an ash hurley, a Cúltec hurley and one-off commissioned hurleys made from teak, beech, oak and maple, the children will carry out experiments comparing the materials in terms of mass, flexural strength, impact resistance, striking distance and accuracy.

The children predict that a synthetic hurley will perform better than ash in terms of striking distance, accuracy and strength.

They also predict that the ash hurley will outperform hurleys made of other types of wood.

They will do this with the help of current Laois star Willie Hyland, and local hurley maker Joe Fitzpatrick, Laois Hurler of the Year.

They also intend to conduct a survey with the Laois hurling team to find out what material they favour and why.

Research by the Timahoe NS students will investigate why ash is used to make hurleys, the properties of ash and other woods and synthetic materials and the science behind them.

“It is always our aim to try to make our lessons as engaging and fun as possible. I hope that merging sport with science will go some way towards achieving this,” says 5th and 6th class teacher Michael McEvoy.

“While the project title and predictions may raise a few eyebrows among the hurling traditionalists, it gives us the opportunity to bring science into an ancient tradition,” he said.