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Players need to be treated with greater care by officials

We are led to believe that player welfare is now a vitally important element within the GAA. But in two key areas I believe that this laudable concept is being violated.

When it comes to providing much-needed medical assistance for injured players and in ferrying water for consumption the current guidelines are neither practical nor conducive to the well-being players.

The edict whereby an injured player cannot receive medical aid until a referee summons the appropriate personnel onto the playing arena should be reviewed immediately. In recent weeks we have had several instances where assistance for stricken players was delayed simply because the referee was endeavouring to keep up with play and had to wait until a stoppage occurred before summoning the requisite aid.

I would suggest that in cases where a referee is not aware of the plight of an injured player then a linesman should be empowered to permit one medical person to enter the playing arena to attend to that player.

Obviously the recent death of Leitrim player Philip McGuinness as a result of a freak mishap during a club game has focused all our minds on the dangers of contact sports.

We are all aware that the facility for attending to players has been abused in the past in order that tactical decisions and instructions can be implemented but not withstanding this, the health and welfare of players must take priority.

Similarly, in the dispensing of water, flinging a container to a player and then expecting him to drink from a mud-covered — or worse — receptacle is hardly conducive to good health, is it?

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