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GAA to meet British sports clinic to discuss mental health issues

Mark Gottsche (right) will join a panel discussion about mental illness
Mark Gottsche (right) will join a panel discussion about mental illness

THE GAA will meet with a leading British centre for behavioural problems in London next week with issues surrounding mental health believed to be up for discussion.

Sporting Chance, founded by former Arsenal and England international Tony Adams, told The Irish Post they will meet representatives of the GAA in London on Tuesday (November 26).

Last month we revealed that the British organisation had been contacted by the GAA in relation to player welfare issues.

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The contact preceded the death in October of Galway hurler Niall Donoghue which has since led to the call for improved support services for players.

His death, just days before his 23rd birthday, stunned the GAA community.

Britain’s top hurling club, St Gabriels, has also called 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.”

Hurler Conor Cusack
Hurler Conor Cusack

The November 26 meeting with Sporting Chance will coincide with a debate about the mental health of Irish people in London to be led by a London county footballer.

Mark Gottsche, who led London’s footballers to victory against Sligo in May, will join three experts on the panel for the debate.

The debate comes after a number of GAA stars in Ireland disclosed their struggles with mental illness, one of which included Cork hurler Conor Cusack.

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

The Mind Yourself event, called From Smiles to Suicide will take place at Southwark Town Hall from 6pm on Tuesday.

For more information call London Irish charity Mind Yourself — which is organising the discussion — on 020 7354 5248.

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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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