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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020
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Hurling challenges in business and coaching for Cork All-Ireland winner as Covid-19 crisis continues

Former Cork star Ronan Curran on hurling challenges on and off the field due to Covid-19.

A file photo of a Mycro helmet.
A file photo of a Mycro helmet.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THE SCHOOLS CLOSED, GAA activity was shut down and ultimately Ronan Curran saw that the close of March would bring no other option.

The effects of of Covid-19 continue to reverberate around the country, small businesses who are wrapped up in sport are not immune from the impact.

All-Ireland and All-Star winner for his heroics with Cork, Curran has remained immersed in hurling since his inter-county retirement through his role as manager of Mycro Sportsgear.

The absence of training and matches on the GAA schedule saw work dry up for them and prompted them to pull the shutters down for a time.

“When the GAA packed it in for whenever and a lot of sports shops were closing and the schools gone, that’s our business. Clubs were doing nothing so our work was dead in the water really.

“We manufacture all the helmets inside and we do all the hurleys in Cork as well. We’d shut it all down. There was no point going on really. We make to order, we have the staff here to do that and are not relying on overseas orders or anything like that.

“We’d 13 working there and had to leave more or less everyone go, it’ll nearly be until the GAA season starts up again. It’s hard on them but to be fair the Government have been fairly good in what they’ve done so far, that’s a small thing to help keep people going. It’s tough though, especially with childcare and all these things.

“The unfortunate thing for us was that it’s actually our busiest time of the year. We’re very quiet actually in the summer months when the hurling is on because everyone gets sorted out in February, March and April. They’d be our three months that we’d really be at full tilt, going hard at it. The summer then we’d be just building up stock and stuff like that. It’s really going to hit us at the wrong time of the year. That’s tough to take for the business.”

Away from the glamour of the elite county game, it is the removal of hurling from those starting out which was a particular setback.

ronan-curran-and-conal-keaney Ronan Curran in action for Cork against Dublin in 2011. Source: Neil Danton/INPHO

“We’re seen as the safest helmet there, we’ve been around for years, good name, good reliability and stuff like that. We’re very close with the GAA in the (primary) schools, obviously schools want the safest helmet there is.

“When schools start up hurling in February, March, that’s when the bulk of our orders come in. We deal with Kilkenny Cumann na mBunscol, Cork Sciath na Scol, Tipperary and Dublin. That’d be 60, 70% of our business there. Obviously with the schools gone now, they have no hurling now so that’ll just be sales lost.

“There’ll probably be no hurling in this year for those kids. That’s what it’s looking like, especially when you see the Féile and things like that called off. If this happened in the summer months for us, it wouldn’t impact or hurt us that much at all. The timing is the problem.

“It’s a guessing game really, none of us know but I can’t see hurling starting until August or something like that. That’s what you’d be imagining.”

Source: Centra Ireland/YouTube

They have tried to focus on their online retailing of sports equipment in the absence of normal business.

“People are not ordering hurleys because they’re basically not breaking them and they’re not ordering helmets because obviously there’s no games going on.

“Speed balls they wouldn’t be a massive part of the business for us but it has come up and there has been a little bit of a surge. It is getting that new kind of product out there which is good for us. We brought it in last year, it’s a faster ball that doesn’t need to be warmed up.

“A lot of these wall balls need to be warmed up before they get going as they’re dead at the start. This is one good to go and it comes back faster, the idea is to get as many touches as you can in a short period of time.

“It just seems to be a very good one, fellas really seem to like it. The Cork hurlers started using it there last year and it took off from there. We have them in size 4 and 5, they’re very popular and durable as well. All you can do now is ball off a wall, we all need our hurling fix some way.”

Away from the nine to five role, Curran was mapping out 2020 in a coaching sense. He was overseeing the fortunes of Kanturk – the club of Anthony Nash and Aidan Walsh this year – but strategising is not easy there either with the local game in hibernation and no clear idea of when it will emerge or what form it will then take.

“I’m with Kanturk this year. We were due to play Cloyne on I think the 19th of April. Obviously that’s gone now and we don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s talk of a knockout draw and all this kind of craic now. It’ll be interesting, it just depends on time when they get the go ahead to go again. It was enjoyable down there now alright, they’re a good bunch.

“Until the last big announcement, we were getting fellas to do their thing in small groups and with distancing and stuff like that. But when it came in that it was a shutdown more or less, fellas had to take it on themselves. We’ve been keeping in contact alright but look there’s more important things in life than hurling at the moment so we’ll get to that whenever we get the call to go again.

“You’d like to be able to plan hurling coaching as you would the business, but you just can’t do that now. We’ll just have to do what we can.

“It’s just going to be a bad year for the business but we’ll go again next year. We’ve been around a while at this stage.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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