Sunday 22 April 2018

Doyle aware of concussion risks following pre-season scare

Kevin Doyle during Republic of Ireland squad training in Abbotstown, Co. Dublin. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Kevin Doyle during Republic of Ireland squad training in Abbotstown, Co. Dublin. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

After spending large portions of his career as a lone front man, Kevin Doyle has effectively contested headers for a living.

And he now realises that concussion is a serious business, much as the Wexford man retains a cheery disposition while discussing the topic.

He is fully fit for Irish duty this week, but was feeling a bit differently last week when a delayed response to a bang on the head sustained in his final pre-season game with Colorado Rapids led to a spell on the sidelines.

"For a week, I wasn't a feeling great and I had a headache," says Doyle, "I put it down to a 'flu or whatever but I played our first game of the season, had a lot of headers but the headaches got worse.

"I'd got a bang in our last pre-season game, I had a sore neck and I didn't think I was concussed but it turns out it was a delayed reaction to the concussion so I had to sit it out for 10 days. I had brain scans."

The 33-year-old then had to go through the protocols to get the all-clear to return.

"You have to pass a test. I'd do well to pass it at the best of times, it's a memory one," he smiles, "You look at pictures and words and you have to remember them five minutes later, you have to get a certain amount right.

"It's changed. I was knocked out cold twice on a pitch but this is back ten years ago, it wasn't an issue, you wake up, you are asked can you count to ten, where were you born and you are fine.

"Rightly it's taken very seriously now; if you are knocked out you can't come back on. You hear stories about older players who have head injuries and that and are struggling so I am glad I learned before it was too late."

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Doyle has adjusted to American life to the point where it's no longer an interview topic that particularly energises him. He's said it all before at this stage; he is an established player in a decent Colorado operation and now accustomed to the environment and the travel that goes with it. Pre-season was split between Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona.

"Everyone is keen to ask about it but it's normal, the same as anywhere," he says.

The injury problems mean that Doyle could be in line for involvement off the bench on Friday with Daryl Murphy's unavailability effectively meaning that he will be the first striker in line to come in as a sub.

Like every member of the Ireland squad, he is conscious of the Bale factor.

"He was nearly coming on loan to Wolves once," he said, with a wry smile. "I think someone got injured at Spurs and it fell through. He's an unbelievable player and I would hate to have to mark him.

"He is involved in lots of their goals, nearly everything because he is so good. So he deserves the focus."

Irish Independent

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