Football

'I was still having dizziness, brain fog and my reaction process was slow' - Lavey's Sinead McGill on concussion saga

Lavey captured the Ulster title with a final win over Dungloe earlier this month
Lavey captured the Ulster title with a final win over Dungloe earlier this month Lavey captured the Ulster title with a final win over Dungloe earlier this month

WHEN Sinead McGill went to block the sliotar while playing for Lavey against Bellaghy in the first round of the Derry Senior Camogie Championship during the summer, little did she know of the impact from the knock she received to her head from her opponent’s hurl.  

A few days later and her symptoms of concussion – dizziness, brain fog and her reaction responses – began to appear, notably as she attempted to fulfil her work duties as a physio.

She was forced to take a complete break from work for two weeks at a time when she was changing jobs from working in the health service to a private practice, but she knew she had no other choice.

However, her contacts and connections in the healthcare world meant she was able to get the best care, seeing a consultant and a concussion specialist physio.  

When she did go back to work, to start her new position, it was a phased return, with the next step then to get back onto the field of play.

Although Lavey’s participation in the Derry championship had ended, the club’s ladies' footballers were eyeing a county intermediate championship title. 

In all, it took about eight weeks for McGill to get back to herself. She missed the entire county championship but made a substitute appearance against Clonmore in the Ulster junior quarter-final and appeared again as a sub in the semi-final win over Carryduff.

She got her first start of the championship in the final against Dungloe, picking up the player-of-the-match award.

This Sunday, McGill and her team-mates will hope to book their place in the All-Ireland Club Junior Championship final by defeating Connacht and Mayo champions Claremorris (Canon Gibbons Park, Claremorris, 1.30pm). 

McGill, who won an All-Ireland intermediate medal with Derry camogs back in the summer as well, admits there were times when she thought her playing season was over for the year, especially when she did not know she would be symptom free.  

“When we were approaching the semi-final for camogie and then the final for football, I really wasn't sure if I'd get back at all this season,'' she says.

““I had always had faith the girls would win the Derry final, but I still wasn't sure when I'd be able to play again due to the nature of the injury. I didn't have any form of time-frame for when my symptoms would go away. 

“Getting back to football I think I was training maybe for three weeks or so on the pitch before I played a match. The goal was to get back for the Derry final but unfortunately, that wasn't possible as I was still having symptoms like dizziness, brain fog and my reaction process was slow, which isn’t ideal when playing a match.

““Thankfully, management were very understanding and didn't pressure me to come back before I was fully fit. It made a massive difference in my recovery.” 

The concussion physio specialist also played a huge role in getting McGill both back to work and play.  

“I was so lucky that both workplaces were very understanding and supportive,'' explains the 23-year-old.

““I saw a consultant and they sent me on to a concussion specialist physio, which made the difference, as it wasn't until I started the exercises that I started to make any progress. Thankfully due to my own profession, I appreciated the importance of listening to my physio.'' 

The season is certainly not yet over for McGill and her Lavey team-mates with at least one more game and McGill cannot wait. 

“We had always set out to win Derry. We only dreamed of getting to the All-Ireland stages. Just how hard the girls have been working over the last two years to achieve this in such a short time frame, we feel honoured to be here after only two years of playing. It definitely has been a long season but not anything to complain about. We are privileged to be in the position we are in,” she added. 

All-Ireland Junior Club Championship 

WHEN Sinead McGill went to block the sliotar while playing for Lavey against Bellaghy in the first round of the Derry Senior Camogie Championship back during the summer, little did she know of the impact from the knock she received to her head form her opponent’s hurl.  

A few days later and her symptoms of concussion - dizziness, brain fog and her reaction responses - were only beginning to appear especially as she attempted to fulfil her work duties as a physio. She was forced to take a complete break from work for two weeks, at a time when she was changing jobs from working in the health service to a private practice, but she knew she had no other choice. However, her contacts and connections in the health care world meant she was able to get the best care, seeing a consultant and a concussion specialist physio.  

When she did go back to work, to start her new position, it was a phased return with the next step then to get back onto the field of play and although Lavey’s participation in the camogie championship had ended, the club’s ladies footballers were eyeing a county intermediate championship title. 

In all, it took about eight weeks for McGill to get back to herself. She missed the entire county championship but made a substitute appearance against Clonmore in the Ulster junior club quarter-final and appeared again as a sub in the semi-final win over Carryduff. She got her first start of the championship in the final against Dungloe, picking up the Player of the Match award. Now on Sunday she and her club team-mates will hope to book their place in the All-Ireland Junior Club final by defeating Connacht and Mayo champions Claremorris (Canon Gibbons Park, Claremorris, 1.30pm). 

McGill, who won an All-Ireland intermediate medal with Derry camogie back in the summer as well, admits there were times when she thought her playing season was over for the year especially when she did not know she would be symptom free.  

“When we were approaching the semi-final for camogie and then the final for football, I really wasn't sure if I'd get back at all this season. I had always had faith the girls would win the Derry final, but I still wasn't sure when I'd be able to play again due to the nature of the injury. I didn't have any form of time frame for when my symptoms would go away,” she explained.  

“Getting back to football I think I was training maybe for three weeks or so on the pitch before I played a match. The goal was to get back for the Derry final but unfortunately, that wasn't possible as I was still having symptoms like dizziness, brain fog and my reaction process was slow, which isn’t ideal when playing a match. Thankfully management were very understanding and didn't pressure me to come back before I was fully fit. it made a massive difference in my recovery.” 

The concussion physio specialist also played a huge role in getting McGill both back to work and play.  

“I was so lucky that both workplaces were very understanding and supportive. I saw a consultant and they sent me on to a concussion specialist physio. which made the difference, as it wasn't until I started the exercises that I started to make any progress. thankfully due to my own profession, I appreciated the importance of listening to my physio,” said the 23-year-old. 

The season is certainly not yet over for McGill and her Lavey team-mates with at least one more game and McGill cannot wait. 

“We had always set out to win Derry. We only dreamed of getting to the All-Ireland stages. Just how hard the girls have been working over the last two years to achieve this in such a short time frame, we feel honoured to be here after only two years of playing. It definitely has been a long season but not anything to complain about. We are privileged to be in the position we are in,” she added.