ORLA Finn didn’t know at the time – but she had concussion.
She just didn’t feel right and knew there was something wrong. It took a visit to her GP to pinpoint the problem: she had suffered concussion the previous week in a Division 1 league match against Donegal. That was March 16th.
It wasn’t a contact injury. The Ulster side was clearing the ball and it hit the Kinsale woman bang in the face at force.
‘I played on the rest of the game, thinking I was grand,’ she says.
‘The symptoms came on late, it was only the end of that week that I started feeling it.’
But she didn’t put her hand up and say that something wasn’t feeling right. Eight days after suffering concussion, she played almost the full game as Cork beat Mayo away in the league. That was March 24th. Finn scored eight points, six from frees. But she didn’t feel 100 per cent.
‘It was just before the Mayo game when I knew myself that I wasn’t right,’ she says.
‘I find it hard to pull out of things and I wanted to play in the game. It was afterwards when I thought that there is definitely something up here. I went to my GP on the Monday and he said it was a concussion from the belt in the Donegal game.’
Finn had some of the tell-tale signs of concussion.
‘I know people get headaches – but I wasn’t getting headaches. It was a real hazy feeling in my head, really foggy, dizzy and light-headedness,’ she explains.
Even during the match against Mayo, she knew herself that she wasn’t right.
‘It was like I wasn’t even in the moment. I was playing but I wasn’t really there,’ Finn says.
Once it was diagnosed as concussion, the Cork attacker had to adhere to the LGFA protocols regards Return to Play, which stress that a player ‘should never’ return to play while symptomatic.
‘You can’t do anything – no gym, no running, no contact, nothing – until the symptoms are fully gone,’ Finn explains.
‘There is a return to play protocol then. You can return doing light training initially and then if any symptoms come on again you have to stop until you are fully right. You can’t play anything until the symptoms are gone.’
Finn didn’t return to action for Cork until Sunday, April 21st when she given the all-clear to play. She kicked 13 points in the league semi-final win against Dublin.
Back at full speed now, and after picking up the The Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month for May after her heroics for the Rebels in their Division 1 league win, Finn has had no lasting effects from her concussion – but she does stress that players need to put their hands up if they
think they could have concussion. Only recently former Galway footballer Cormac Bane had to retire on medical advice following a series of concussions he suffered.
Finn has warned that there are real dangers if concussion goes undiagnosed.
‘You have to get it checked out straightaway otherwise it could have severe implications going forward,’ she says.
‘The first week I trained away and played the Mayo game. Looking back now it was foolish to play the game because I knew myself I wasn’t right. But as a player you want to play in every game you can and I
find it hard to make that call myself.
‘But you know yourself better than anyone else so if you do feel a little bit off and think that there is something wrong, you need to put your hand up and just say it.
‘There is more awareness now than when I started playing first. Players and management are more aware of it and the dangers of concussion. It can really affect you long term if you continue training and playing when you are concussed.’