Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 22 September 2014

Mayo GAA stars suffered facial injuries and not concussion, says team doctor

Published 02/09/2014 | 12:05

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Mayo's Aidan O'Shea suffered nasty facial injuries after an accidental clash of heads with team mate Cillian O'Connor
Mayo's Aidan O'Shea suffered nasty facial injuries after an accidental clash of heads with team mate Cillian O'Connor

Sean Moffatt, team doctor for the Mayo senior footballers, has spoken of a "duty of care" to sports people in relation to concussion and feels the issue requires further awareness.

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Yesterday the parents of a fourteen-year-old boy who died after suffering a number of concussions on the rugby pitch criticised the IRFU and the prevailing attitudes towards concussion in the sport, though Moffatt believes the GAA is making progress.

"The biggest issue on concussion is that it is very difficult to detect," he said on RTE Radio's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme.

"The key thing is that if there is any suspicion of concussion the duty of care is to take the player off and should not return to the field of play.

Karen Walton, mother of fourteen-year-old Benjamin who died after suffering a number of concussions on the rugby pitch says there is still "an old schoolboy mentality" regarding concussion, with father Peter recalling how doctors told him that his son had the kind of injuries associated with a car crash.

Read more: Parents of rugby death schoolboy (14) critical of IRFU concussion campaign

Moffatt however believes that the Association has shown an eagerness to make changes and cited last weekend's All-Ireland semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick as an example of where player welfare was put before the team's needs.

Two of Mayo's biggest stars Aidan O'Shea and Cillian O'Connor clashed heads in the first half and both left the field of play with blood injuries. The pair were assessed at half-time and did not re-enter the field of play until the medical team were satisfied that both players were fully recovered to return during the second half.

"Cillian and Aidan sustained nasty facial injuries that required lacerations," he explained.

"I wasn't happy to let the players out until there was a period of observation. I took my time to see if there were any signs or symptoms of concussion.

"After around seven or eight minutes, Cillian O'Connor returned after taking a balance test and a warm up, while it took a few more minutes with Aidan.

"With my knowledge of concussion, I was happy there were no further injuries."

The team doctor also added that he has never encountered any manager pressurising a player to return to action, with the biggest issue being detection.

"In my experience, players often do no exhibit full signs or symptoms of concussion until much later."

While the blood rule has been a progressive step, Moffatt feels more can be done to address the issue.

"We have the blood sub rule which allows us to assess injuries, but we have nothing for head injuries," he explained.

"It would be controversial and could create complications, but it would help awareness."

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