Sunday 11 December 2016

'Concussion message getting through'

Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30

Dr. Pat O'Neill Picture: Sportsfile
Dr. Pat O'Neill Picture: Sportsfile

Dr Pat O'Neill is satisfied GAA players are now more aware of the dangers of concussion ahead of Ireland's first symposium on the issue next month.

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The issue has come to the fore in recent years after a number of high-profile incidents, including Mayo acknowledging they should have withdrawn Lee Keegan from action after a clash of heads with Eoin Cadogan of Cork in their league clash earlier this year.

And now US-based UPMC, Bon Secours Health system and the GAA have come together to present the country's first convention on concussion in Croke Park on Saturday, October 8.

The former All-Ireland winning player and manager insists concussion isn't a major issue for GAA players but is happy the various stakeholders are taking the issue seriously when it comes to removing players from the field of play in the event of a suspected head injury.

"Certainly they (the players) have become aware, and in the media, (we have been) getting the message out there," O'Neill said.

"But we have to be sensible and pragmatic about it and not get over-hyped about it - and I say that particularly in the context of Gaelic games.

"At the same time, make the safe decisions - and the safe decision is if there is a suspicion of it there, the player is removed, even if there is a reluctance on the part of manager or player.

"It is really not a player's decision but what needs to be done and when they do have to make that decision, that decision will be made for them. That is part of the education process."

O'Neill wants the upcoming symposium to help boost the awareness at all levels in the Association.

"It is really to look at what the issues are with it, and there are issues with it, what the logistics of it are and how to manage it," he said.

"It is a completely different situation being able to manage it here (in Croke Park), on a day when you have all the facilities, and a junior B game in a remote area.

"It is the same head injury, it is the same consequences, same issues that goes with it.

"So it is really just an educational process to get everyone thinking along the same lines, get all the stakeholders involved, managers, the coaches, strength and conditioning people, the referees who are central to this, and then all the medical and allied people, getting them to work off the same agenda."

Irish Independent

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