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Jim hits out at player treatment

20130728-141021.jpg BY CHRIS MCNULTY JIM
McGuinness says he is ‘fearful’ of one of his Donegal players being
left with a ‘serious injury’ if referees do not clamp down on the
increasingly robust challenges they’re feeling. As he surveyed a
0-14 to 0-8 qualifier win over Laois that shot his team into an
All-Ireland quarter-final, McGuinness gave a calculated and
measured account of his views on the injury that forced Mark McHugh
to sit out the game in Carrick-on-Shannon. When McGuinness has
something he wants to say, it’s generally worth listening to. This
was no different. The Donegal manager is a stout protector of his
players – and he was clearly vexed by the increased ‘attention’
that is upon them from opponents. McHugh spent two nights in
Letterkenny General Hospital last week (Sunday and Monday) after
shipping a heavy challenge in the Ulster final from Monaghan’s
Stephen Gollogly. The hit led to both players leaving the action
after just nine minutes. Doctors had mentioned during the week that
McHugh’s injuries were concurrent with a car crash, rather than a
sports injury: the player sustained concussion, a perforated ear
drum and a tear of his quad muscle. “We’re in a very dangerous
position here. I fear that something is going to happen and my
biggest fear is a spinal injury or a neck injury,” McGuinness said.
“We have to create a situation where we feel that it’s ok to put
people out onto the pitch. “Mark McHugh’s last week was our fourth
concussion in three games. “Four concussions in three games – I
imagine Munster or Leinster Rugby wouldn’t have that many. I have
never criticised a referee and I’m not criticising a referee now.
“What I am saying is that there is a duty of care to the players. I
would be fearful that our players will end up on the receiving end
of something very serious soon that will cost everybody a lot of
pain. “That’s not something I want to preside over. It’s not worth
it if it goes to that point. Let’s see what happens.” Declan Walsh
was concussed during the Ulster quarter-final win over Tyrone,
while Frank McGlynn and Ryan Bradley were kept in Letterkenny
General Hospital the night of the semi-final triumph against Down,
both having been replaced due to concussion. On Saturday evening,
Laois also ramped up the physical stakes – with Michael Murphy and
Colm McFadden, in particular, on the receiving end of some
high-octane challenges. McGuinness said: “We are not afraid of
physicality. There was a lot of physicality out there tonight. We
can live with that. There is a difference between physicality and
burst ear drums and serious leg injuries. “Listen, we’re not afraid
of physicality and the game is physical. There is a difference
between physicality and what’s happening. That is where the danger
element comes in. “I played midfield for Donegal for years and, no
matter how hard I shouldered anybody in my life, I never burst an
eardrum, I never bloody knocked anybody concussed and I didn’t put
a five-centimetre hole in anybody’s leg.” McGuinness said that
Monaghan ‘were thye better team’ in the Ulster final and also
strongly said that he didn’t wish to criticise the referee, David
Coldrick. However, McGuinness conveyed his fear for his players as
the heat of Croke Park looms. On McHugh, he said: “I’m not happy
that we have a player with a burst ear drum. “I’m not happy that he
had a major concussion. I’m not happy that he has a five-
centimetre – not millimetre – tear on his quad muscle as a result
of the impact. I’m not happy that he spent two nights in hospital.
I’m not happy that he has missed a full week off work.” The
challenge from Gollogly received little comment in the national
media following the final, while The Sunday Game analysis didn’t
reference it at all. McGuinness said: “All I can do is give you the
facts and relay that there is a fear and an anxiety as a manager.
The only thing that matters to me is the players. “We have had
great times together, we’ve worked really hard together and we’ve
had great times together as a group. You don’t want to have a
situation where there is going to be a serious injury. “I feel
we’re not far away from that happening. “There were a lot of
instances out there today where our players were trying to get up
the field and they were being stopped. It’s going to happen and I
hope that everyone involved can live with the consequences. I know
that I won’t be.”

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