By Brendan O’Brien
Friday, December 14, 2012
A leading surgeon has predicted that the GAA’s decision to make the wearing of mouthguards compulsory as of January 2014 will reduce the number of facial injuries suffered by players by up to 80%.
Cliff Beirne, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Dublin, also revealed that the new rule, which will apply to all grades in both codes, will cut the number of dental injuries by 60%.
Research figures have indicated that Ireland has one of the highest rates of sport-related oral injuries in the EU, with one-third of all adult dental injuries being sports-related.
Football players are five times more likely to suffer such injuries than their hurling counterparts while any player
not wearing a mouthguard as of 2014 may be sent off and will not be covered under the GAA Player Injury Scheme.
The GPA have been running a mouthguard initiative of their own in recent years and it has met with a positive response from the majority of players, according to chief executive Dessie Farrell.
"In the last number of years, a lot of people have begun to wear them,"
said Donegal captain Michael Murphy,
"and people will probably gradually introduce them this year. I’ve tried wearing one, on and off, but hopefully this year I’ll get used to it."
O’Neill was fulsome in his praise for the GAA’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee, chaired by Ger Ryan, and for the input of Beirne and described the move as a "brave step" that had to be taken.
"To get a man of that calibre to work on a committee voluntarily is staggering,"
said O’Neill at the launch of the official OPRO GAA/GPA ‘stock’ and ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards.
"When you get that sort of advice you just have to listen to it. He came here this morning after putting people’s faces back together."