Surgeon hails players’ grit

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gary O’Toole has highlighted the dedication of Gaelic footballers and hurlers to return to the field after surgery.

The former Olympian and Irish champion swimmer said in his experience the determination of club and county players to play as soon as possible after an operation is unparalleled compared to other sports.

“The pressure is coming from the sportspeople themselves,” he told Newstalk’s Off The Ball.

“For instance, if I see someone who has a hurling or a Gaelic football injury, usually an upper limb injury, I know that they will have a match targeted to come back. They will have already worked it out in their mind.

“The GAA players, whether they be club players or inter-county players, they will tell you when they are going to come back. They are the most amazingly dedicated people to their sport. It never ceases to amaze me.

“Whereas other sports will look to you for guidance but the GAA (players) will always say, ‘No, my friend had this same injury and he was back after x weeks.”

O’Toole said the medical profession are particularly sensitive to injuries sustained in sports which are becoming more attritional such as rugby and Gaelic games.

“In the defence of my colleagues and anybody who treats these sportsmen, they do listen now, definitely.

“They didn’t do it in the past. They would always cut a week or two off the rehabilitation. It’s player pressure too. It’s not just the coach and management.

“Players are afraid that if they stay out for too long they won’t get their place back. They’ll be consigned to the bench. They’ll be forgotten about. There’s tremendous pressure — out of sight, out of mind.”


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