Playing GAA abroad


MSK Physio

5 tips for playing GAA overseas

Any GAA athlete thinking of playing Gaelic Football or Hurling overseas should read this before crossing the white line….

1) Insurance – So you land in Calgary, Dubai or Sydney looking to play hurling or football. The first thing you will notice is there are hybrid GAA players, Cavan hurlers, Kilkenny footballers ….standing on a pitch with some of these guys can lead to injury. But remember the main reason you landed there in the first place is to work. However if you get a serious injury whilst playing, your living away from home experience will be a lot less enjoyable when there are no funds to pay for the experiences. Apart from having the usual insurance through your GAA club, I always recommend our Physio patients to get some personal income protection. Having this type of protection gives you piece of mind when playing alongside the hybrids (but you may still get injured regardless of your “piece of mind”)

2) Training – Playing GAA away from home means different things for different people, some teams take it very serious and some teams are more social, do your research and find the teams that suit you.  Training is a great way to get to know your team mates a bit better and make some new contacts for potential job opportunities. Training assists with the prevention of injury, because if you just play matches without training the risk of injury dramatically increases. Other types of training that also reduce injury, yoga, pilates, swimming and cycling are all very good forms of cross training and help to reduce injury and overload on the body. But the best part about training is that it’s also a great source of information as to how you got home at the weekend, where you ended up and who shifted (kissed) who…

3) Pre match – get there on time!! There is nothing worse than the coach ringing guys wondering where they are with many people getting “stuck” in the M5 tunnel in Sydney or you’ll get the classic I’ll be there in 5 mins, when you haven’t actually left the house. In the ideal scenario you should not be hungover, you will play rubbish, and if you’re still drunk you’ll think you’re an all star (You’re not). Playing hungover increases the risk of injury and pisses your coach and team mates off, who have stayed off the beer the night before. Do a good warm up with some sports specific drills, drink lots of water before and during the game. Don’t run straight from your car onto the pitch with “we are the champions”  ringing in your ears, this increases the risk of injury and the possibility of getting roasted by your opponent is relatively high if not certain!

4) Respect for coaches, club officials and referees – The GAA is a voluntary organisation, your coach does not want to hear you moaning if he takes you off as a sub. Chances are, you were playing rubbish or you’re hungover and he finally noticed. If you get a text from your coach to ask if you’re going, a simple reply is good manners, at least he knows where you stand. Most of the refs overseas have never refereed a game in Croke Park.  Please remember this before you start abusing or criticising their decision. They are as my mammy would say, “Doing their best”, without them the games would not go ahead and we would not have a thriving overseas GAA community thanks to the hard work of all the people involved in running our clubs.

5/ Post match – This is a serious one…. If you get a knock on your head or your think you have a fracture, then you must go to hospital, DO NOT go on the beer. Thankfully there is more education regarding brain injuries and this matter, but you still get some heroes out there. If you share a house/lift with someone who got a bad knock make sure you take them to the hospital. If you have swelling around a joint – knee, ankle or hand then it’s best to get it checked out sooner rather than later. Early intervention of injures will lead to a faster recovery, which means you can go back training – which means you’ll be able to find out why you woke up on Monday morning with a packet of frozen peas in bed beside you (it was a good idea at the time!)