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Macauley plea on concussion

DUBLIN footballer Michael Darragh Macauley has admitted concussed players are their "own worst enemies" in wanting to stay on the pitch after suffering a bang to the head.

The 2013 Footballer of the Year believes management teams should decide if a player can stay on the pitch - and never the injured party.

Macauley was speaking in Leinster House - as an ambassador for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland - at yesterday's hearings on the Implications of Concussion in Sport, held by the Joint Committee on Health and Children.

"As players we are our own worst enemies when it comes to sitting out with a concussion," Macauley said.

"A concussed player has impaired decision-making when you are asking them are they fine, so we are in no fit state to make the correct call. The decision for a player to sit out after a knock to the head must be decided by the coach or management team. Don't leave the decision up to us - take us out of the game," he implored.

With the increased athleticism and power of inter-county players, the potential danger of head collisions has become a significant medical issue in recent years - highlighted by the injury travails suffered by Dublin's Rory O'Carroll in last year's All-Ireland final and Mayo duo Aidan O'Shea and Cillian O'Connor in this year's semi-final replay against Kerry.

'Concussion is the public health issue of our time and the most common form of brain injury' was the stark message delivered by ABI Ireland at yesterday's hearings. CEO Barbara O'Connell stressed the need for greater education and increased awareness.

"A player will often tell you they haven't been concussed but they have experienced 'seeing stars' ... 'seeing stars' is one of the many symptoms of concussion, our players don't know this and that is why they don't know they are concussed," she outlined.

"We need education and agreed protocols to be implemented to ensure concussion is managed correctly on every playing pitch across Ireland and at every level from grassroots to the elite. Less than 10pc of concussions are actual knock-outs, leaving 90pc of concussions to be detected by the coach or reported by the player.

"To tackle the concussion crisis we must give players, coaches and parents the tools to recognise the signs and symptoms of a concussed player; and get these players off the pitch."