Brendan Maher: Blood testing on match day ‘would be draining’

Tipperary hurler Brendan Maher has expressed strong reservations over the introduction of blood testing for GAA players.

The Irish Sports Council announced last week that senior inter-county players will be subject to blood testing in 2016 and the Tipperary captain is opposed to blood testing on match-days.

“I am not sure about the ins and outs, I know that I wouldn’t like to have a blood test taken the day of the match, or after a match, because it would drain you so much,” he said.

“It would be a bit like the boxers, the day of the fight. I wouldn’t want to be giving blood on the day of the match — it wouldn’t be good for any player to be releasing blood on the day of the game.”

The 26-year old believes drug testing has become so serious in the GAA that players are afraid to take even a Lemsip when under the weather.

He was surprised by the news surrounding the Monaghan footballer, but said two failed drug tests in the 14-years since the GAA adopted the Irish Sports Council’s anti-doping programme highlighted the honesty of inter-county players.

“Everything has gone so professional, diet and everything — it is a bit of a burden to be thinking of what you can or can’t take. When you are feeling sick and down, you have to think about what to take to feel better.

“You have to be so aware of what you are taking in when you have a cold or anything, there are so many things that you can’t take. You can be done if you take Nurofen Plus or something.

“Our doctor is very good in highlighting the things that we can’t take, but it is very easy to get caught, that is just the way it is.

“I was tested last week, just after training and you would be worried, because if you have taken stuff like Panadol, there are other medicines you are not sure of — you would be told that it is okay, but it would be in the back of your mind. The worry is always there. It is so strict. Barocca or anything like that you can’t take.”

He added: “You don’t want any cheating going on in the sport either. It is so extreme, you would nearly be conscious of taking a Lemsip the way things have gone.”

Meanwhile, Tipperary hurling selector Michael Ryan does not know when Noel McGrath will be back in intercounty action, with the attacker allowed to return in his own time. It was announced last month that two-time All-Star McGrath was to undergo surgery for testicular cancer and Ryan is keen to allow him to recuperate away from the spotlight.

“I’m not at liberty to be talking about Noel, to be honest,” he said.

“Obviously, we’ll welcome him back as soon as he can get back to us, but I’m not at liberty to speak and I’m not up to do so either, as it’s a very personal matter.

“We’re planning without him for the moment but we’ll welcome him back with open arms.

“We can’t wait to get Noel back.”

Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists are not in championship action until they face either Clare or Limerick in the Munster SHC semi-final on June 21.

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