Back in 2016, the LGFA Central Council voted to adopt the GAA Concussion Guidelines with agreed amendments for female players.
The information document highlights that injury must be taken seriously “to protect the long-term welfare of the player.” It states that some symptoms develop immediately while other symptoms may make themselves known gradually over time.
The latter was the case when Orla Finn suffered a knock in Cork’s league game against Donegal earlier this year. The usual symptoms of concussion didn’t hit her immediately and so, unaware of her injury, she returned to face Mayo the following week.
“I probably shouldn’t have”, she admitted.
“I got the belt in the game the week before against Donegal. I knew I wasn’t right all week but I wasn’t putting it down to concussion. Then I played Mayo and I knew I wasn’t right. After that then the management pulled me aside.”
Finn went to the doctor who confirmed that her symptoms were a result of the bang against Donegal and the return to play protocols kicked in.
According to the guidelines, there should be an initial period of two weeks rest for all female players following a concussion. They should take one week of full rest before progressing to the rehabilitation stage, only if the symptoms have fully ceased.
The rehabilitation is divided into various stages beginning with no activity, light activity, sports specific exercise, no contact drills, full contact drills and, finally, return to play. Each stage should take 24 hours.
Finn returned to feature for Cork in the Division 1 League semi-final against Dublin four weeks after the Mayo encounter.
“They really monitor concussions these days and I went to the doctor and he said it was from the hit I got against Donegal. The symptoms were quite late coming on for me. Playing a game in training that week and playing against Mayo didn’t help.
“Thankfully, I was only out a few weeks. I had to just rest up until the symptoms went away, I didn’t go back training.
“It’s hard being out of it but when it’s only a few weeks it’s fine.”
The Kinsale forward insisted that there is more awareness than ever around the dangers of concussion within the game.
“It is talked about, definitely. I’ve been on the panel nine years now with Cork and this year more than any year they are monitoring us.
“There’s a few of our girls during the league campaign that were out for a few weeks with concussion.
“People are realising how dangerous they are now and you just have to completely rest until all of your symptoms are gone. But it is being monitored well.”
If nothing else, the increase in the number of concussions proves how physical the game has now become.
The playing rules clearly state that there should be no deliberate body contact while shouldering is prohibited. A player can only be dispossessed by knocking the ball from her hand using an open hand. A player holding the ball to her body cannot be legally dispossessed.
However, as with any sport, in the heat of battle rules are blurred slightly and players naturally get hurt. Finn believes it is just an indication of how the game is progressing.
“It is getting more physical with all the gym work and everything we’re doing at the moment, that’s the way it’s going to go.
“Ladies Football is a non-contact sport but there has to be some extent of hitting. That’s just the way things are going.”
Finn showed no ill-effects from her injury lay-off in that game against Dublin, as she scored 13 points to end Dublin’s reign. Ephie Fitzgerald’s side followed that up with a narrow win over Galway to claim their 12th league title.
Add to that their strong win over Kerry in the Munster Championship semi-final and it shows that Cork are a side intent on going one step further than they did in 2018.
“Things are going well for us this year. After losing an All Ireland final last year and losing in the semi-final the year before, we want to get back to winning ways.
“We’ve put in a lot of tough training over the last number of weeks and we’ve a massive panel this year. A lot of girls got great runs in the league campaign so that’s all going to stand to us going forward.
“We haven’t won an All Ireland in the last number of years so it would be nice to get back there again.”
Kerry Footballer David Clifford alongside Kilkenny Hurler Eoin Murphy and Cork Ladies Footballer Orla Finn today launched the brand-new Blueberry flavour Avonmore Protein Milk, just in time for a busy summer of sport.
Avonmore Protein Milk is proud to partner with GAA players as part of their training regime. A contribution from each litre of Avonmore Protein Milk sold is redirected towards GAA initiatives to fund grassroots GAA and GPA player development programmes.