Saturday 21 April 2018

Player Diary: For two days, you can't watch TV, look at a screen or read a book

Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue is tackled by Cardiff Blues’ Nick Williams, left, and George Earle during his side’s Pro12 defeat Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue is tackled by Cardiff Blues’ Nick Williams, left, and George Earle during his side’s Pro12 defeat Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tommy O'Donnell

It was a nice start to the season for me and the lads against Scarlets as we picked up a good away win in Wales, but then it was right back down to earth last weekend with defeat to Cardiff.

After my injury, hopefully I can get back on the field as soon as I can, find that form again and build from there.

To start the season in such a positive manner was good, but we're all keen to kick on from that defeat.

We didn't play particularly well, but despite some poor moments from us we still had a chance to win it with ten minutes to go.

Having had that chance to take a win when we hadn't performed so well is probably the reason why we are so disappointed. A second win of the season would have been a great start for us.

We allowed them to attack us and considering how well we played the week before and how well we had fronted up, it was a bit of a let-down to ourselves and to the great crowd of supporters that were there.

On a personal note, there have been some differences as this week I have been going through the return to play protocols following on from my concussion against Cardiff.


It is disappointing to go off in such a tight game like that, but when we're talking about head injuries there is no discussions - you go off and get the correct treatment.

Like every player I did my baseline tests with the medical team at the start of pre-season. Part of that battery of tests are various memory exams, letters and words and a balance test.

When you go into the treatment room for a head injury assessment (HIA) during a game you are asked to remember the sequence of a few letters and words. They then get you to do a balance test, which they follow with the same letters and words test.

If you can't pass that test inside ten minutes you are not allowed back on the field. If you feel any physical symptoms you have to flag them with the medics, but even if you pass all the tests the doctor can pull you from the game if he is not happy.

It's a very strict but hugely important system.

The HIA 1 takes place straight away after the injury, and after the match you take the HIA 2 test. I was okay after both tests last weekend, but was not well enough to return to the game.

Felix Jones drove me home from Cork afterwards, and at that stage the first few days of your protocols is all about taking it as easy as possible.

There is no TV allowed, no reading books, no mentally taxing exercise. It was two days of trying to keep yourself entertained without looking at a screen - even phones and their blue light displays are off limits.

Tomorrow we face a real stiff challenge and we all remember the tough day over in Dragons last year. The supporters are right on top of you in Rodney Parade and they are not afraid of giving you a bit of stick if you knock on or make a mistake.

We need a good start, and a better performance this week will go a long way towards that. A similar display to what we managed in Scarlets would be a good starting point for us.

A general better day out is needed really. I know it is early in the season but every four points counts towards your end tally.

While we have been training all summer in Limerick we are yet to get into Thomond Park for a runabout, and I suppose our first day back there will be the captain's run ahead of the Edinburgh game next Saturday.

It will be great to get back into Thomond Park again and taste that atmosphere, and against Edinburgh it will be really put up to us.

There has been a lot of change for some of the squad since they moved to Limerick, but for me there hasn't been a massive difference considering I've been living here since I moved to college.

For the Cork lads it is very different - they were used to coming up and staying in hotels. I think they are all settling in well though.

Moving into the new high performance centre here last week has really brought it home to us. It is a far more comfortable working environment for everyone.

When it comes to your match review, it is so much more streamlined. Last week the whole squad met in the auditorium for the review. Everything is so straightforward.

But we are still finding our feet around the place, there are some rooms we haven't explored yet. There is furniture being installed around us and the moving process is still going on, but it is such a positive place.

It's the little things that catch your eye, even having your own locker there to leave some of your gym gear in. Having somewhere to throw your bag or a drawer of your own - they're the small things, but everything counts.


Even having the common room on the top floor is a real treat. That is taking shape at the moment, the tables and chairs are in there, but discussions are ongoing with the lads about what will be going on the TVs.

You can bring in the ingredients to make a bite to eat in the afternoon in the new kitchen and we have a few fridges there if you want to bring in lunch.

Unfortunately I don't think anyone has invented any front-row proof Tupperware yet, so it might be a bit risky to leave too much grub hanging around.

Irish Independent

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