Sunday Sports Pages: concussion v brain injury,and the restricted media access to players

Nathan Murphy was joined by Cliona Foley and James Horan in studio

Following a week which witnessed the arrival of a new dimension to the debate about concussion, the panel discussed the Sunday paper articles which strive to make some sense of this worrying injury.

The articles were naturally inspired by an incident involving Jonathan Sexton last weekend when he was removed from a Leinster game with a suspected fifth concussion in two years. It was later revealed that Sexton actually suffered a brain injury which journalist Shane McGrath tackled in The Mail on Sunday.

Referring to the article, Cliona Foley said:

''There's a big debate about what is concussion and what is brain injury. Shane points out a lot of what is out there and he says Leinster made a balls of the communication about Sexton's injury. There was a time when players would lie about symptoms of concussion in order to keep playing but we've moved on from that.''

James Horan personally encountered the harmful impact of concussion as manager of the Mayo football team when key players Aidan O'Shea and Cillian O'Connor clashed heads in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final. Recalling the event, Horan stated that the decision about whether or not to send the player back on to the pitch, should fall exclusively to the medical staff.

''Clarity is needed in these situations. We were lucky to have a great medical team in Mayo who went through all the protocols. When they gave us the all clear, that was enough for me. Having said that, you would challenge the medical team all the time.''

The panellists continued the conversation by looking at a piece written by Dion Fanning in the Sunday Independent. The piece addresses the actions of Dimitar Berbatov who interviewed himself in an attempt to illustrate the stupid questions that are put to him in an interview.

Cliona Foley spoke about the restricted media access to players in all sports and made an interesting point about how this can be linked with a manager's lack of trust in their players.

''The lack of access to players happens across the board in all sports. What always interested me was if you don't trust your players to talk to the media, then what kind of message are you sending to them about their ability to make decisions on the pitch?''

Horan countered that a player's lack of participation in an interview is not always linked to a directive from management. He said that up to 15 players in a panel simply just don't want to do interviews.