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'One-punch fatality' a prospect with the current run of GAA club match violence

Former Tyrone All-Ireland winner Enda McGinley on the concerning trend.

A Down league game at the weekend was marred by a brawl involving players.
A Down league game at the weekend was marred by a brawl involving players.
Image: Twitter

THE POSSIBILITY OF a ‘one-punch fatality’ is a logical progression with the current run of on-pitch violence throughout the club game, insists former Tyrone All-Ireland winner, Enda McGinley

He has significant experience with such events in working as a Clinical Specialist Physio in the Trauma and Orthopaedics ward in Craigavon Hospital and has warned where the current trend may lead to.

“Everyone has heard of the one-punch fatalities and there are shocking incidences. But all you have to do is catch one person correctly and you can do massive damage,” stated McGinley.

“Nowadays with boys having eight, nine or ten years of strength training behind themselves, the power in those punches is much greater than before, if they are being thrown with intent. And the one area that never gets any stronger is your face and bones, your skull and brains. A weight programme has no impact on those structures and yet you are hitting them with greater force than ever before.”

For the last three years, McGinley served on the GAA’s Medical, Scientific Welfare Committee and the majority of their work centred around the area of concussion. While he is keen to point out that he himself had been involved in the odd skirmish on the pitch, the nature of such combat is evolving from self-defence to physical attack and urges caution.

Enda McGinley lifts the Sam Maguire Cup Enda McGinley lifts the Sam Maguire in 2008. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“People just need to catch themselves on, when that rush of blood is in. I have no doubt that none of them want to do serious damage, but they are caught up in the moment and you are just waiting for the first major, real bad story to come out of this,” he said.

“As much as it is bad PR, bad PR goes away. Serious damage doesn’t. I work in the health sector so you are aware that these things that change lives happen in split seconds and there is plenty of regret afterwards. There needs to be a big dose of common sense entering the discussion.”

While pointing out that a one-punch fatality would almost seem an inevitability, he asked the question, “Not only that, but what if you put somebody into a coma? Leave somebody brain-damaged? Take somebody’s sight?

“You see plenty of people worse off in hospital who are left… I have seen them with head injuries up in hospital and these are normal people, same as you and me and you see them then in the hospital with a bad brain injury. What a sentence for family and everything.”

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Declan Bogue

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