Casey: Player welfare must come first

Dr Crokes joint manager Vince Casey has called for player welfare to be placed above any game, or result, after a concussed Kieran O’Leary was substituted at half-time in Sunday’s clash with Castlehaven.

At the break in the Munster Club SFC clash with the Cork champions the Killarney side’s management were faced with a dilemma. O’Leary was concussed, and according to Casey “didn’t know the half-time score”.

The management called local doctor Donal Kavanagh — who was at the game — into their dressing room and within two to three minutes the decision was made to substitute O’Leary.

“The player’s welfare must come before any other consideration,” said Casey. O’Leary was Dr Crokes’ best player in that first-half, kicking 0-2 and they led by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break.

“Kieran wanted to play on, as players do, but he didn’t even know the half-time score. He got a bang in the head just before half-time but he never lost consciousness. We called Dr Kavanagh in and with his advice we decided to sub Kieran out and bring in Jamie Doolan. It didn’t matter what the score was. He just couldn’t go on, even though he wanted to himself.”

Casey didn’t go as far as to call for the GAA to introduce a protocol to deal with concussion in the game.

“It’s very hard to monitor. I mean you don’t have doctors at every game. We, as a club, treat concussion on a player-by-player and situation-by-situation basis. It is a very hard decision to make but you couldn’t have it on your conscience if you let a player play on and something awful happened.”

The actions of the Crokes management is at odds with Tottenham who allowed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to stay on the pitch despite being knocked unconscious and the Dublin footballers who kept Rory O’Carroll on the field despite being concussed in this year’s All-Ireland final.

That decision was severely criticised at the time by Barbara O’Connell, the CEO of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.

“Rory’s decision-making was impaired at the time and so the decision to come off the pitch should have been taken out of his hands,” she said.

“The fear for Rory, or any player who plays on while concussed, is the risk of a second hit resulting in the catastrophe of second impact syndrome.”

Dr Crokes have also made the decision not to let O’Leary train for the next fortnight. Their next game in the Munster SFC is the semi-final clash against Tippy’s Loughmore-Castleiney on November 17 back at Lewis Road, Killarney.


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