Mayo’s Keegan reveals head injury concerns

After suffering a third career concussion on top of shoulder dislocation and two ligament tears, Lee Keegan has revealed he has asked about wearing protective gear.

For the second Division 1 campaign in three years, the 2016 footballer of the year suffered head trauma in March when Pádraig McNulty’s flying, red card challenge forced him to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

It followed concussion two years ago when he collided with Cork’s Eoin Cadogan in Páirc Uí Rinn.

Announcing he will be fit for Saturday week’s first round All-Ireland qualifier against Limerick, having returned to full training two weeks ago,

Keegan has had discussions about donning gear to protect his joints but has been advised against it.

“I think, subconsciously, if you wear protective gear you’re conscious of it and you’re probably going into games thinking maybe that you’ll pull out of a challenge.

"And you don’t mean to do it. I suppose the game has got so physical now that there is that need as well.

“I have asked if there is a need to wear it and they said no as there is no benefit to me because the shoulder has been well repaired by the medical people.

"And in terms of strapping, I don’t like doing that because subconsciously I’m thinking maybe there’s something wrong with me.

“In terms of shoulders, it’s a male thing, an ego thing as well, that you don’t want to wear anything, you want to be manly, that kind of alpha male thing.

“I wouldn’t see a lot of guys probably too worried about it but definitely, it’s something that has come up in our group.”

Keegan suffered headaches the night of the Tyrone match but was assessed and given the all clear.

“That was another part of the reason not to be rushing back, not just the shoulder but if I got another belt in the head you’re looking at serious trouble down the line.

“I went with (Dr) Liam Moffatt, he’d be over our concussion assessments so we did a full test. Again, nothing showed up.

“Just for myself, it was a case of having peace of mind regarding the quality of life I’ll have when I finish up football.”

Concussion is a hot topic for Keegan given his style of football.

“Yes, it probably is a bit of a concern. The way I play the game and the way the position is, you’re constantly in contact.

“But if you go out thinking of that, you’re going to pull out of challenges and so, I suppose, it can be just bad luck as well.

“If it happens again we’ll have to really sit down and maybe assess where I’m going after that. I’m not getting any younger.”

The Westport man now likens Gaelic football to “a rugby zone” — “the hits are heavier and the tackles bigger”.

And the players are more powerful too. “They are getting bigger, I suppose, and the gym has become a key asset in the GAA.

“I’m not its biggest fan, to be honest. I prefer running or playing with a football but teams have definitely become more physical.

“If it works for teams, they’re going to do it. If it doesn’t, they’re going to have to assess where they’re going wrong.

“You look at Kildare at the weekend and they looked to be overreliant on gym work rather than maybe basic skills.

“We tend to pride ourselves on our football rather than how many weights we can lift.”

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