Wednesday 25 April 2018

Decision to let Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh on the pitch could have been fatal, warns specialists

Tyrone County Board deny GAA player was concussed against Monaghan

Sean Cavanagh lies on the pitch after taking a blow to the head during the National League defeat to Monaghan at Healy Park.
Sean Cavanagh lies on the pitch after taking a blow to the head during the National League defeat to Monaghan at Healy Park.
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Sean Cavanagh was in danger of receiving a fatal blow after a head injury suffered at the weekend according to Ireland's leading brain injury specialists.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABI) has expressed serious concern over the incident and added that there is still clearly an issue in the GAA if playing with concussion is seen in a brave manner.

Last night the Tyrone County Board have denied reports that Cavanagh played on after suffering concussion, despite statements to the contrary by manager Mickey Harte post-match.

The Tyrone player took a blow to the head just 15 minutes into the Allianz League Division One opener at Healy Park when either the trailing leg or knee of an opponent caught him unintentionally.

The Moy player was clearly seen holding his head even as he fell to the turf and received treatment on the spot for some minutes before play resumed.

“For a while there we didn’t know if he would have to come off or not because he had a slight, mild concussion with a bang above the eye,” Harte said afterwards.

That would indicate that Tyrone went against the GAA's own 'Concussion Management Guidelines' which state that a concussed player 'should not return to play on the same day'.

"If Sean Cavanagh was concussed and he played on and then took another hit, even if it was only a shoulder that caused the head to shake, he could have suffered a second concussion and second impact syndrome, which can be fatal if the player is not removed from play," ABI spokesperson Karen O'Boyle told The Mirror.

Sean Cavanagh in action against Monaghan at Healy Park.
Sean Cavanagh in action against Monaghan at Healy Park.

"It's sending out totally the wrong message to everyone by calling that brave."

There were the high profile cases of Dublin's Rory O'Carroll and Mayo's Aidan O'Shea in the last couple of years who suffered concussion and the ABI believes that changing the mind-set in Gaelic Games is proving difficult.

"This warrior ethos is something we're trying very hard to get rid of.

"Why is it okay to say 'I have a twisted knee, I need to come off' and not to say the same after a hit to the head?"

In a statement issued Tuesday night, the Tyrone County Board said that Cavanagh sustained a knock to his forehead during the first half and “was immediately assessed for any evidence of concussion”.

However, he was “deemed NOT to be concussed and was allowed to remain on the field”.

Cavanagh was re-assessed at half time by the medical team who were “satisfied” that he remained symptom free.

The statement concluded: “The Medical Team were satisfied throughout that Sean did not have concussion.

"In post-match interviews the term 'concussion' was used loosely from a non-medical perspective which appears to have led to some erroneous conclusions.

“We trust this statement clarifies the matter.”

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