GAA plan to reduce recurring injuries

THE GAA are confident they can dramatically reduce recurring injuries in inter-county hurling and football through their burgeoning injury database.

Established by chartered physiotherapist John Murphy, a member of the Association’s medical, science and welfare committee in 2007, the database has compiled statistics over the course of the 2008 and '09 seasons involving 33 inter-county panels split between the two codes.

The current injury recurrence rates within the same season stand at 18.2% for inter-county footballers and 12.8% for hurlers.

“The AFL (Australian Football League) have managed to halve their instance of recurrence from between 1997 and 2009,” Murphy pointed out.

“Through better education and greater awareness among players, coaches and managers, there is no reason why the GAA injury recurrence rates could not be significantly reduced.”

Fellow committee member Dr Pat Duggan pointed out that the data obtained could persuade the GAA to change some of its playing rules.

“The AFL, based on the database that they compiled, have changed rules to curb recurrent injuries and it has worked.”

Interestingly, the average recovery time for a hamstring injury in football is 10.5 days longer than it is in hurling.

Murphy explained that hamstring tears (fibre disruption) are typically more severe in football, a game where he also revealed close to two-thirds of hamstring injuries are picked up in the second-half of games.

Duggan also stated the GAA’s position paper on concussion is “ahead of the possé”.

“Rugby has a three-week rule but that has no part to play in state of the art treatment for concussion,” he said.

“Monitoring concussion has to be done day-to-day. The GAA’s position paper follows by the best international guidelines.”

Meanwhile, the GAA’s medical, scientific and welfare committee have advised that one-time screening for Gaelic players over the age of 14 is the most effective way of identifying risk of sudden cardiac death.

The Association’s expert panel also recommend that the process should be repeated before the age of 25.

A screening comprises a cardiac screening questionnaire compiled by the GAA and physical and ECG(electrocardiography) examinations.

The issue has been a major campaign point for the GAA since the tragic death of Tyrone football star Cormac McAnallen in March 2004.

“The two major criteria for deciding to undergo a screening are familyhistory and symptoms with exercise, such as fainting or near fainting,” said Duggan.

“Would I recommend screening to every player? For absoluteness, my answer would be yes.”

Chairman committee chairman Dr Danny Mulvihill pointed out that no screening is 100% effective but stated that it had been shown to help inidentifying risk in the generalpopulace.

Meanwhile Galway secretary Michael Monaghan has called for the GAA to cut admission prices for National League games next year by a third.

In his report to annual convention, Monaghan believes the Association should reduce their €15 entry fee for NFL and NHL games to reflect the country’s financial difficulties.

“The admission prices for 2011 are under review and I believe they should be set at a reasonable rate to take account of the current economic climate,” wrote Monaghan.

“In particular, the National League prices should be fixed at €10 and €5 respectively and should eliminate the diversification between stand and terrace, which is unsustainable at many venues when the stand may be half-empty.”

Monaghan also criticised the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee’s decision to fix the All-Ireland Under-21 final between Galway and Tipperary in Thurles.

“The granting of home venue to Tipperary was a very unusual and unexplained decision and again being an evening fixture mitigated against a good travelling support.”

Monaghan also found fault with the CCCC’s scheduling of the NHL final between Galway and Cork on a Bank Holiday Monday, which he blamed for lowering the attendance figure at the game in Semple Stadium.

And in a further blast, he slammed the committee for handing down suspensions to Mullagh players last January. As he put it, they “were revisiting an issue that had already been resolved”.

Following their club’s ill-tempered 2009 Galway SHC semi-final against Loughrea, three Mullagh players served 12-week bans but the CCCC appeared to have demanded they face 48-week ones.

“This instruction led to a legal quagmire and finished in a dead end which brought unnecessary attention to the Association,” remarked Monaghan.

Meanwhile, former Ulster chairman Tom Daly has accepted the Donegal County Board’s nomination to run for the GAA presidency next April.

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