A new study of alcohol use patterns by GAA intercounty players has revealed “adverse alcohol use”.
Dr Kieran Murray, rheumatologist and lead author of the study told Newstalk Breakfast that the GAA should consider a ban on sponsorship by alcoholic drink brands as they had done with gambling.
The study involved 700 intercounty gaelic football, hurling and camogie players and indicated that three-quarters who were regular drinkers, showed signs of “adverse alcohol use” and two-thirds had experienced alcohol-related harm within the previous 12 months.
Binge drinking in off season
There were alarming binge drinking patterns in the off season even though players drank less than the average person over the course of the year, said Dr Murray.
Players admitted taking a week off work the week after a major win “to go to the pub”. A quarter of the respondents also said they had missed work or college because of their drinking.
The high levels of binge drinking also led to more emergency department visits, more accidents and head injuries, he added.
Dr Murray warned that there appeared to be a harmful relationship between the GAA and alcohol. He had been told of incidents where players as young as “11 or 12” had been observed in a pub drinking while celebrating an intercounty win.
The GAA had initiated the healthy club programme, he acknowledged, but more needed to be done, and a simple solution would be to ban alcohol sponsorship.