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Sport

GAA contacted sports clinic days before hurler’s death

Tributes have flooded in for Galway hurler Niall Donoghue, who was
found dead last month.

A LEADING British centre for the treatment of depression and anxiety among sports people has been approached by a representative within the GAA, The Irish Post understands.

The Sporting Chance organisation, founded by Tony Adams, confirmed that they were contacted by an individual involved with player welfare issues in the GAA, who made enquiries about their services.

“We have just made contact with a gentleman who deals with player welfare issues for those involved in Gaelic Games,” said a Sporting Chance spokesperson.

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“We understand the person works with the GAA and also players involved in the Republic of Ireland football team.”

Coincidentally, it is believed the contact was made in the days prior to the passing of Galway hurler Niall Donoghue, who was found dead in Ireland last month.

The death of the hurler, who won a Leinster Senior Hurling title in 2012, has shocked the GAA community and led to calls for improved support services for players.

Sporting Chance said they have dealt with professional soccer players in the past who have suffered with depression, anxiety, behavioural problems and alcohol problems.

They stressed that they are in a position to provide continued support to former professional soccer stars who return to Ireland when they retire.

Former Arsenal defender Tony Adams, who battled alcoholism, set up the Sporting Chance Clinic in 2000

Donoghue’s death on October 23, just days before the popular player’s 23rd birthday, prompted Britain’s top hurling club, St Gabriels, to call on the GAA to put more resources into mental health support services.

“With the strong Galway connections the club has, some of the lads in the squad knew Niall or played against him,” said the club’s Ambrose Gordon.

“Earlier in the year, we lost Seanie Quinn from Antrim who hurled for London and Robert Emmetts before returning home. With the economic problems in Ireland and the age profile of the players, it is certainly something the GAA should be looking more closely at.”

Donoghue, a Kilbeacanty clubman, won an All-Ireland U21 medal in 2011 before graduating to the senior panel under Anthony Cunningham.

GAA stars across Ireland — as well as One Direction singer Niall Horan — took to Twitter last month to pay tribute to the sportsman.

“Galway GAA is in shock with the news of the tragic, and untimely, death of Niall Donoghue,” Galway County Board said in a statement.

“On behalf of the entire Galway GAA community, at home and abroad, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Niall’s family and especially his father Francis, brother Shane, sister Orla, uncles, aunts, and all his relatives.

“We offer all our condolences also to the members of Niall’s club and parish, Kilbeacanty, to his fellow inter-county panellists on the Galway hurling team, and to his many friends and colleagues. “Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal dílis.”

Cork hurler and footballer Eoin Cadogan tweeted: “Awful to hear of the passing of Niall Donoghue. At only 22 years of age another star of our games taken away tragically. May he rest in peace.”

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Robert Mulhern
ABOUT 

Robert is a freelance news and sports journalist. He is also the author of A Very Different County and creator/producer of Sex, Flights and Videotapes for RTE's Doc on One. Follow him @MulhernRobert on Twitter

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