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'The Hurler' director says he kept filming with a concussion during scene with Marty Morrissey

Movie director carried on working for TWO DAYS after suffering a concussion as he battled to get new film over the bar
Tony with Marty Morrissey and John Mullane

Tony with Marty Morrissey and John Mullane

Tony smacked into a skylight on set

Tony smacked into a skylight on set

Tony with some of his cast including Jon Kenny and Karl Spain (below)

Tony with some of his cast including Jon Kenny and Karl Spain (below)

Eugene Masterson

A PLUCKY film director walked around concussed for two days after smashing his head off a skylight while he made a movie with Marty Morrissey and comedian Jon Kenny.

'The show must go on' was Tony Kelly's response when he was knocked flat on his back after violently colliding with a window in a GAA clubhouse.

Tony's concussion was all the more remarkable as not only was he directing but also acting in a film about hurling, called naturally enough, The Hurler.

The incident happened recently on the second last day of shooting. The movie also stars comedians Karl Spain and Dave McSavage, Waterford hurling legend John Mullane and actress Elva Trill, who recently starred opposite Alec Baldwin in his new film 'Kid Santa'.

"While trying to organise the first shots of the day and hide a birthday cake for the sound man, Tony walked into a huge skylight in the clubhouse," revealed an insider.

Tony smacked into a skylight on set

Tony smacked into a skylight on set

"The window was wide open and hanging parallel to the floor. He immediately hit the ground with the sound of his head hitting the window echoing down as far as the dressing room where the full cast of actors, extras and crew were waiting for him to come down to set up the first shot of the day.

"The make-up artist rushed over to pick him up, with his head hitting so hard Tony thought his teeth had been knocked out."

Waterford man Tony, who previously starred in Netflix's The Alienist and BBC's Primeval, said: "It's quite funny, me making a film about hurling and to get concussed by a fecking window, it's quite comedic.

"This bloody big skylight was six foot in height and I'm 6ft 1in myself. It nearly took the head off me.

"When I went down I actually hit my head so hard I thought I was after knocking out all me teeth.

"Some people said I should maybe go to hospital, but I just thought I banged me head off a window. I was going 'I'll be grand'. It was a fairly bad knock.

"The lads were saying 'maybe we should get you checked out'. I was like 'no, it's the second last day, we have a long day ahead. Marty Morrissey was coming down from Dublin and John Mullane was meeting us there as well to do their cameo, so it was an important day."

But while Tony was professional for the two days of filming, others noticed something was up.

"I remember directing the lads, and being like 'this is what I want', and they were going 'but you haven't told us what you want'. I thought I was giving the direction, but I suppose I wasn't communicating properly," he explains.

"While I was a bit foggy that day, it was the next day I found it even worse. Once we wrapped I was diagnosed with concussion."

The story of The Hurler is just as interesting.

"It's a comedy and I play a kind of a disgraced hurler," he says. "Gar is the first hurler to fail a test for steroids and then he has to redeem himself for that.

Tony admits that his memory is still fuzzy around the final scenes but he managed to soldier on through the shoot.

"I was doing the team talk for the county final team and that's before I got concussed. Then it was the next day - it was myself and Elva Trill for most of the day, and Karl Spain then joined us for the last scene.

"It was only when they said 'listen you should probably go get checked out', that I said 'yeah I probably should'."

Tony adds: "I had six scenes to shoot on the last day. My performance wasn't affected as an actor at all. It was more like trying to chat to people off set or my family or friends afterwards that I was a bit mumbly."

While Tony remembers little of the last two days of filming, he gets the odd flashback.

"I remember banging my head and then all of a sudden Marty and John Mullane were there four of five hours later," he continues.

"Marty was an absolute legend. I'm going on his radio show the June bank holiday weekend talking about the experience. He plays himself, as does John."

It was on the evening of the final day of shooting that Tony did something about his injury.

"On Saturday evening I was out with Elva and Karl and they were like 'let's go for a few drinks to celebrate'," he recalls.

"But they said, 'maybe you should go to hospital first'. So I went to hospital where they told me I had concussion and got checked out, then I joined up with them afterwards.

"I remember saying the next day 'I've got to bring my bag in with me because I've got cash in it', then when I got inside, 'oh I better bring my bag in from the cab, I've cash in it'. But I'd already brought it in, so it was that sort of thing."

Tony with some of his cast including Jon Kenny and Karl Spain (below)

Tony with some of his cast including Jon Kenny and Karl Spain (below)

Tony was more of a soccer player in his youth than a hurler, but a bad injury put paid to his playing.

He hopes the film will be in cinemas before the end of the year, and he has just a couple of scenes in Los Angeles to complete to finish the movie.

"At 15 when I was in transition year in school I decided I wanted to go to film school, learn how to write a movie and do what Trey Parker from South Park did: write, direct and act in funny movies," he reflects.

"I've busted my arse for 12 months to get The Hurler over the line, but I've actually busted my arse for 10 years.

"I thought up Gar in a mad moment in 2011, I brought him to life when I was visa-less, penniless and stuck at home in 2011.

"I got some small money to play him in a New York episode in 2016. In 2020 I played him on stage and three days later the world shut down for nearly two years. And now, finally, I made my movie."

When 'it's a wrap' was called he felt a rush.

"Less than 17 months ago, I had lost everything - from my mind to my money to my sobriety. I was sitting in a treatment centre, vowing to myself I'd put my life back together and do this. I did it. If I can do it, anybody can."


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