Former St Munchin's player Cllr Frankie Daly
FIVE young Limerick rugby players were rushed to hospital after sustaining serious head injuries in two separate Junior Cup games this week.
And now calls have been made for “compulsory headgear” to be worn among junior players, after students of St Munchin’s College in Corbally and St Clement’s College in the city suffered potentially damaging injuries.
This Wednesday, St Munchin’s College’s Junior Cup quarter-final against Presentation Brothers College was halted after three students were taken to Cork University Hospital.
These youngsters were released from hospital last night, with St Munchin's deputy principal Brian O'Donoghue reporting that the lads are home safe and well in Limerick.
One St Clement’s College student was kept in University Hospital Limerick overnight on Tuesday, after being taken from the pitch on a spinal board following their game against Castletroy College at UL.
A second student from St Clement’s College suffering from suspected concussion also spent a number of hours at the Dooradoyle hospital on the advice of medics.
The incidents came a week after four of the school’s senior rugby players were injured in a game against Crescent College Comprehensive at Thomond Park.
One of these was left suffering from suspected concussion.
“If the staff in the schools aren’t talking about this, there is something wrong,” said a source at St Clement’s, who asked not to be identified.
This source also revealed that the two stricken players were left waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance to take them to hospital.
There is a rule at senior level that you have to have doctors and ambulances present. I don’t know if it is the same at schools level. It should be. When the ambulances arrived, they were fantastic. But we should not have to wait that long,” he said.
Cllr Frankie Daly, who claimed the Munster Senior Cup with St Munchin’s in 2004, said: “Head-gear should be compulsory, at a minimum with forward line players. There is an emphasis in terms of running at players instead of running at space.”
After five minutes of St Munchin’s match at Cork’s Musgrave Park, a clash of heads involving two of the school’s players caused referee Paudie Sheehan to pause the match. The players were taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital.
And a short time later, in a further incident in the run of play, a third player suffered a concussion-related injury, and was also taken to hospital as a precaution.
Mr O’Donoghue confirmed the three lads were back in Limerick by 10pm last night.
"It's fantastic news. As I said to you yesterday, we did the right thing. All the medics, all the players and coaches in Cork absolutely did the right thing. They followed all the correct procedures and protocols, and we will continue to do so," he said this Thursday morning.
He also paid tribute to Presentation Brothers College, whose captain Richie Foley and his father attended the hospital to check if the players were okay.
"It was a lovely lovely gesture, and it typifies all that is fantastic about rugby in schools," Mr O'Donoghue said.
After the third player was taken to hospital, the referee ordered the teams back to the dressing room.
However, when asked to return, the St Munchin’s team clearly distressed by the serious injuries to their teammates, declined to continue. Under instructions from referee Mr Sheehan, the Cork side returned, but with no opposition for a scrum, the game was abandoned.
With Presentation leading 5-0 at the time, they were awarded the game.
However, it is likely an appeal will be made by St Munchin’s in the hope the game can be replayed.
Update - the three St Munchin's players have since been released from hospital. A statement from the school said they were "back at home" and "recovering well".
"A sincere thanks to the players, coaches and supporters from PBC for your concern, help, support and best wishes. In particular to the PBC captain and his dad who visited our players in hospital this evening. Such a marvellous gesture that represents the genuine camaraderie and respect that our game and your school represents.
"We would also like to thank the medics at Musgrave park and at UHC. Thanks also to Munster Rugby, our fellow schools from around the country and all those that sent messages of good wishes."