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A prospective study of injury in elite gaelic games
  1. C Blake1,
  2. J C Murphy2,
  3. C Gissane3,
  4. E O'Malley1
  1. 1School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2Gaelic Athletic Association, Medical and Scientific Committee, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Department of Sport Rehabilitation, St. Mary's University College, London, UK
  4. 4School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


Background Gaelic football and hurling are the national sports of Ireland. They are both high velocity, multidirectional, contact field games. To date, prospective injury data for these has been of short duration.

Objective To describe the incidence and nature of sport-related injuries in elite male Gaelic football and hurling players over a 3 year period.

Design Prospective observational study.

Setting Elite-level county representative teams.

Participants 16 male football and 16 hurling teams were tracked over the 2007–2009 seasons.

Assessment of risk factors New injury diagnoses and classifications were recorded by the team physiotherapist or doctor onto the National GAA Injury Database, along with injury history and weekly team exposure to training and match hours.

Main outcome measures Injury was defined as requiring 24 h time loss from training or match-play. Incidence rate was calculated as injuries/1000 h training and match-play.

Results A total of 788 football and 671 hurling injuries were recorded. Incidence of injury/1000 h football training was 5.34 (2007), 3.67 (2008) and 3.37 (2009) and 5.13 (2007), 3.69 (2008) and 2.8 (2009) for hurling. Match-play injury rates were 97.0, 79.09 and 50.4/1000 h of football and 96.0, 87.4 and 46.5/1000 h of hurling. Lower limb injuries predominated (football: 74.2% to 76.7%; hurling: 68% to 70.5%). Hamstring injuries were the single most common injury overall (football: 17.4% to 25%, hurling: 15.7% to 16.5%). Upper limb injuries accounted for 9.2% to 14.7% of all football injuries and 16.6% to 24% of all hurling injuries. Muscle was the most frequently injured tissue (football: 38.3% to 45.8%; hurling: 35.5% to 42.2%) and fractures accounted for 3.3% to 5.3% football injuries and 6% to 7.9% hurling injuries.

Conclusion These findings illustrate injury patterns in Gaelic football using a prospective methodology over consecutive seasons, thus providing a baseline from which injury prevention strategies can be evaluated.

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