The injury plight suffered by former Clare hurler Darach Honan has caught the attention in recent days, following an interview he gave to Denis Walsh of The Sunday Times. Honan has been forced to retire from inter-county hurling at the age of 27 as a result of a chronic hip injury.
During the course of the interview, Honan revealed that Clare County Board refused to pay his medical bills.
I had to fork out six grand for the operation and consultations and everything. They refused to give me any help at all. It goes back to 2016. After we lost to Waterford we went on a hard training block. Two weeks, three weeks maybe. I was shagged after that. I couldn’t play. Since then I’ve had that pain. I took painkillers to get through games with my club and when I said to the county board that I needed this operation they said, ‘You played with your club so you must have been fine — it’s your club that should pay for it.
Honan confirmed that his bills were partly covered by the GPA.
This caused a stir among other retired inter-county players.
Wow. Can’t believe this . Septic. https://t.co/ngyuo1Z3Q5
— paul galvin (@pgal10) January 30, 2018
From experience my advice is “ keep up your own Personal Health Insurance “ because when you finish no ones gives a shit ............... https://t.co/BGzPHNlqVf
— Bernard Flynn (@bernardflynn15) January 30, 2018
Former Kilkenny hurler Eoin Larkin tweeted "disgraceful carry-on. But that’s what’s ahead for every player once they retire. There's no structure in place to look after players once they’ve finished".
Balls asked Seamus Hickey, serving as interim CEO of the Gaelic Players' Association following Dermot Early's surprise departure from the role, as to whether Larkin's assertion that there are no structures in place for retired players is true. While Hickey was unwilling to speak of any player or case individually, he did say that Larkin's claim is "wrong".
He cited a fund of €200,000 the GPA have made available to retired intercounty players to pay for any out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by private health insurance, subject to clearance by a committee overseeing the fund. Current inter-county players have their medical costs covered by the GAA's Injury Benefit Fund.
When Balls compared the size of this fund to how the GPA allocate other resources - €1.2 million is spent on nutrition for inter-county players for example - Hickey said he was happy with the current allocation of resources.
I'm happy in the sense that the fund didn't exist before. And regarding the €1.2 million for nutrition, that is for every member. So break that down for 2,100 players.
Hickey also confirmed that the GPA will consider increasing the €200,000 fund in the future.