Concussions rare in GAA, claims Pat O’Neill

Former All-Ireland winning Dublin manager Dr Pat O’Neill has assured the GAA community that incidences of concussion are still relatively rare and shouldn’t be ‘over hyped’.

One of the GAA’s most high-profile concussion episodes occurred during the 2013 All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo when Rory O’Carroll remained on the field for several minutes with the injury.

Dublin were criticised for their handling of the situation with the Acquired Brain Injury Ireland group claiming the decision to remove O’Carroll ‘should have been taken out of his hands’.

The incident did provide a platform to educate GAA members on concussion though such injuries remain less common than in sports like rugby and American Football. Dr O’Neill said the GAA is continually monitoring and adopting best practice in the area of identifying and treating concussion but noted that it is thankfully not a major problem.

“I don’t think it’s a major issue in terms of Gaelic games, other than when it does happen obviously, but certainly on a frequency and intensity level it’s not in the same capacity as what they’re dealing with in the United States,” said O’Neill.

“They are leaders in terms of the research on it and what is going on, some of which is quite alarming. But I don’t think we’re in that position in Gaelic games.”

Dr O’Neill will take part in Ireland’s first ever concussion symposium which takes place at Croke Park on October 8.

The ex-Dublin footballer was also on the committee that decided against bringing a concussion sub rule into Gaelic games last year.

“It went initially as a motion to Congress and it was turned back to the medical and scientific committee and they’ve had a look at it in detail (and decided against introducing it) but with the proviso that if anything comes out of this type of conference, there’s an international one also coming up in Berlin in November, and if the advice coming out of that is that there should be changes to it then (we’ll listen).

“Personally, in the capacities that I have been in as a player and a manager and a medic, I wouldn’t be in favour of it. If there is a suspected concussion there, the decision should be to remove the player.”

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