At 27 years of age, Darach Honan is an ex-hurler.
The Clonlara man, who won an All-Ireland with Clare in 2013, scoring the decisive 5th goal in the Banner's win over Cork in the final replay was long tipped to be a superstar of the game. At 6ft 7", it was more than his size that made him a dominant presence at underage level - he was also an extremely skillful hurler and someone who was a menace to any defender he came across.
His senior career didn't go as well as expected, mainly due to injuries, but many in Clare were still hoping they hadn't seen the best of Honan just yet. Unfortunately, after being informed by doctors, he would need a hip replacement before his 30th birthday if he continued to play the game, he has been forced to give up the game at such a young age.
In an interview on RTE.ie with Marie Crowe, Honan lays out why he's had to retire from the game at such a young age, and importantly, explains why he thinks it's the fault of overtraining.
I put it down to poor load-management and all the training that we were doing. It’s worrying and it is something that needs to be addressed in the GAA.
Some of the training regimes are not good for the teams and there has to be more responsibility taken by people in charge.
As Crowe points out in the article, fellow Clare players Seadna Morey, Cian Dillon, and Conor McGrath have also had hip surgeries in recent years, while a host of other players including Maurice Shanahan, Richie Power and Cillian Buckley.
Is this all as a result of overtraining or the type of training players are being subjected to? Is there enough care being taken by managers, mentors and physical trainers to make sure that players aren't going to suffer in later life because of what they're being subjected to as inter-county GAA players?
Last year, Patrick Carton, an orthopeadic surgeon at the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford spoke openly about what he described a hip injury epidemic in the GAA.
Speaking on Mid-West Radio in November 2016, Dr Carton said that he's regularly seeing GAA players in their 20s who think they need hip surgery, but actually need a hip replacement. He put the problem down, like Honan, to over-intensive training, which causes progressive damage to the hip.
Hip injuries are becoming increasingly more common.
We’re treating people from 16-36 years of age in sports, mainly GAA hurling and football, soccer and rugby to a lesser degree.
75 per cent are involved in GAA sports, 10 per cent in soccer and six per cent in rugby.
The average age of a player who we operate on is 31 – surgery at that age group is designed to repair damage rather than replacing in older age groups.
The average age is decreasing – 2015 figures show that the average age for surgery was 26 years old.
It was Dr. Carton that Honan went to see in Waterford when he got the bad news. It was not the easiest news to hear for the Clonlara man.
After I was told the extent of the damage to my hip I was very upset. I had to pull over when I was driving home. It was very hard to take.
You can read the full interview with Darach Honan on Rte.ie
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