The 7 stages of heartbreak when you break your hurl
Some things are just irreplaceable.
You can watch a ball drift agonisingly wide, you can ship a ferocious belt to the shin, you can even spend the day sitting on the bench, because you don't know true heartbreak until you break your hurl.
It may take weeks, it may take months or even years, it could be love at first grip, but when you strike a bond with your camán, and it becomes the moneymaker, you really won't be able to look at another stick the same way again.
The weight, the shape, the bás, the touch, the strike. Everything. It becomes an extension of your arm and one that just feels right every time you take hold of it.
The thing about our hurleys is it's all about getting used to them, giving them a chance, and opening your mind and your body to the beauty they can offer you.
Hurling is a combative game, and we do have to put our 30 something inch weapons through the wars, so there's always a high likelihood that they might... you know, break. Jesus, it even hurts to say it.
Here are the feelings that only hurling connoisseurs will be familiar with, when God forbid, the number one hun gets obliterated.
1. Shit, I've a game to play
Scandalously shortsighted. But when you're in the midst of fierce competition, your prime concern is winning the battle, not the war. Now that the breadwinner is gone, the struggle well and truly begins. If you do it without your baby, well then fair dues, son. We all have spare hurls, we convince ourselves they're the same. Not at all.
2. Dressing room realisation
Hits you like a car. You ask the hurley man if he's seen the other half of your hurl, desperately clinging to the hope that your club's resident hurley fixer can work his magic. It's a tragic, upsetting, whirlwind period that will cut much, much deeper than any injuries from the match.
You walk out of the dressing room with pride, a booming chest, but inside your squirming, longing for the good old days. Instead, half of it is stuck in the dressing room bin, the other half out on the battlefield. Tough times.
May last days, weeks, months. Like a break-up from a relationship, you just don't know how you're going to cope. May hit you at any given moment, out of the blue, and that's the scariest thing of all. You recall the beautiful strikes that flew off the bás, and the soul destroying moment when it cracked in your own hands. Torturous.
4. Hope kills
It's the hope that builds us up, that sustains us, that kills us. "Surely Tommy will be able to put a bit of glue and a band on this bad boy and give her a new lease of life. I always wanted a plate on my hurl anyway." There's no fixing if she's cracked down the middle, boss, but logic is clouded by hope, by desperation.
5. False second comings
Tommy worked his magic, alright. He glued her, he sanded her, he banded her up and he says she's as good as new. Therein lies the problem, though, she has a new weight, a new feel, a new touch. It's not the same 33" breadwinner at all, you might say it's an imposter. The worst thing of all is that when you finally, finally start seeing the light with her again, she crumbles under any sort of pressure she has to face.
6. Same hurley-maker, size, style... no
This guy made her before, he nailed it. All he has to do is the exact same thing again and then we're back in business.
It's impossible to recreate perfection, and it might be just you being a contrary little fecker, but there's a big difference between the new one and the one.
7. Moving on
New hurl. New me. It's not easy. You can't prepare for this, but you're going to have to grimace and bear it.