The serious injury to our youth player Dan Haigney in a minor game, has, during the last week caused much distress and soul searching to many members of our club, especially our parents and youth players. After discussions with the Haigney family and amongst others within our club, Naomh Éanna An Ómaigh, have decided to engage an internal initiative, developed and spearheaded by Dan’s father Dr Eugene Haigney, entitled “Hands Down – Protecting our players from Head/Facial Injury”. We as a club believe such an initiative will complement our existing Codes of Conduct and Behaviour, that each and every child within our club agrees to on an annual basis. This programme will be delivered to our own youth players initially and will highlight the potentially serious consequences of incidents on the field, when such injuries occur. We want to reassure out parents that as a club and a community, we will continue to do all we can to develop and indeed protect our youth members participating in our games. As a club, we feel that education of coaches and youth players is vital in reducing the potential risk of serious injury to players. If our club can in any small way, help reduce the rate of such incidents and injuries within our games, this would at least be one positive outcome from this sad and unfortunate event.
As a club we also invite Tyrone GAA, through their Children Protection Officer and Health and Wellbeing Committee, along with all other clubs in the county to avail of this initiative. This will provide an opportunity to change the culture within our county and the GAA generally with regard to such incidents. Ulster GAA and the other provinces, counties and clubs throughout the thirty-two counties will be most welcome to adopt the initiative, should they wish. We consider the Association at national level, should also consider conducting an audit on head and facial injuries occurring at games which could feed into prevention and protection of our players.
Whilst education is an important step, we consider that the current code of conduct and the rulebook at national level, does not act as a sufficient deterrent in the prevention of such incidents. The disciplinary code and relevant sanctions set out in An Treoir Oifiguil for committing on-field infractions, is we believe inconsistent, lacks clarity and fails to act as a sufficient deterrent considering the increasing number of incidents week on week. With this in mind, our club committee intends bringing a motion to our own Annual General Meeting that will with suggested changes to the disciplinary process, which will hopefully make its way to An Clár at Congress next spring. Such change would, we consider, bring about proper sanctions and act as a deterrent to players who involve themselves in such incidents.
As a club we want to retain where possible all our young players, their families and coaches, whom we are indebted to for their determination and continued participation and promotion of our games. We all however, have a responsibility to ensure that as an organisation we take all reasonable steps to protect our members, especially our youth players, who proudly wear our jersey. Our club will not shirk from this responsibility. Finally, we wish Dan all the best in his recovery and look forward to seeing him return to the white and black on the field at Healy Park soon.
Conchúr Mac Salaigh
Naomh Éanna An Ómaigh
5ú Lúnasa 2020