A quarter of young GAA players admit to playing on even though they knew they were concussed, new research reveals.
study by NUI Galway found that 40pc of boys and young men playing hurling and football assumed that continuing to play would relieve the symptoms.
Among its findings were that males were far more likely to remain on the pitch despite being knocked out after a blow to the head than female players.
Less than 17pc of young women admitted to doing the same.
Of those interviewed by the research team, almost all were aware of headaches and dizziness being signs of concussion.
However, only slightly more than half knew about other symptoms such as sluggish and feeling hazy.
According to the GAA’s ‘Return To Play’ guidelines, any player who is suspected of concussion should be removed immediately from play.
Unless approved by a medic, they are not allowed to return to the field under any circumstance.
If a player is found to have concussion, there must be a rest period of two weeks, it adds.
The study by NUI Galway comes just days after calls to ban tackling in underage rugby across Ireland and the UK.
Trinity College psychology professor Dr Sabina Brennan, who is director of the university’s dementia research, said there was a growing body of scientific evidence showing that repeated head injuries and concussions sustained by children while playing contact sports can “lead to life-long impairment of brain function and dementia in later life”.
"This isn't cotton wool parenting. We need to err on the side of caution," she told the Irish Independent.
"It's more than an accident waiting to happen."
Responding to the appeal, the IRFU has stated that the long-term health and personal benefits of playing rugby "far outweigh the risks".