JOHN FOGARTY: Hip operations are a growing problem for GAA players 

The GAA has reported a large spike in the number of claims for hip operations among minor football and hurlers. A total of 77 teenage footballers and hurler last year made applications via the players insurance scheme compared to 19 in 2013, 20 in 2012, five in 2011 and 10 in 2010.

In that five-year span, claims in total have increased dramatically by almost 230%.

In 2013, the GAA’s risk and insurance manager Sinead Leavy said the rise in the number of players in their early to mid 20s seeking operations on two hips was “concerning”. That number wasn’t as high last year.

Considering the rise in minors requiring hip injury, she did qualify that they may have previously been diagnosed as groin problems when they were actually hip issues although groin numbers at minor level haven’t dropped significantly.

However, the numbers would lend support to the theory under-age players are suffering as a result of over-training, especially as other wear and tear injuries at that level are also on the increase.

The number of minor footballers and hurlers requiring knee operations has jumped dramatically. A total of 246 footballers needed knee surgery last year compared to 118 in 2012, while the total among U18 hurlers has more than trebled from 48 in 2013 to 136 in 2014.

Shoulder operation claims have also grown from 544 in 2013 to 724 last year. The biggest rise has been experienced at minor football, 93 cases in 2014 as opposed to 42 in 2013.

Not surprisingly, given that mouth-guards were made compulsory at adult level last January, teeth operation claims in football have dropped from 198 in 2013 to 119.

In 2010, they stood at 236 claims. Since then, total cases have decreased from 350 to 227.

There was also an increase of approximately €250,000 paid out via the injury scheme last year compared to 2013, the total coming to €8.25 million with 192 more cases.

Leavy said she had come across several cases of players delaying surgery on operations because they couldn’t afford to give up work to go under the knife and for the necessary recovery period.

Meanwhile while most eyes will be on Kieran Donaghy in next weekend’s All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final, Slaughtneil have pinpointed his midfield partner Greg Horan as a potential stumbling block.

Donaghy’s role with Austin Stacks has been mixed all season. In the Munster semi-final against Ballincollig, he started at full-forward but was brought out to midfield, where he made a major impact.

In the final against The Nire, Donaghy lined up in the middle and he spent the whole afternoon there.

With Donaghy splitting to one wing and Greg Horan and Wayne Guthrie on the other, the Kerry champions’ kickouts will be something that Mickey Moran and John Joe Kearney will have to devise a strategy for.

The former Derry minor boss, who took the Oak Leafers to an All-Ireland title in 1989, highlighted the importance of Horan’s mobility to the Stacks’ cause.

“That [kickouts] is something we’ll have to think about and deal with. Donaghy started midfield in the Munster final, whereas in the semi-final he came out to midfield.

“I’d think he’ll probably start midfield against us. But for all the talk about Donaghy, his partner, Horan, at midfield is maybe a man to watch for them.

“He seems to be good on the ball and he looks to be mobile.

“Donaghy’s a mighty man for them but I think Horan’s very mobile and he could create problems,” he said.

The Derry and Ulster champions are working with a clean bill of health ahead of next Sunday’s clash in Portlaoise.

“Part of what’s helped, from this time last year to now, is that we brought in Eoin Bradley as our strength and conditioning coach. Eoin has done a very good job. The boys have all bought into the strength and conditioning.

“That’s just the way things have gone. It used to be unheard of, but I think it’s key to keeping players injury free.

“That’s not saying they can’t still pick up an injury, but it helps protect them a bit. I think it has helped, the players have benefited from it.”



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