Gaelic Football Injuries: How do they compare to Soccer and Rugby?

Murphy and Blake conducted a four year study tracking over 800 inter-county Gaelic Footballers between 2007 and 2010 and their findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2012.

Match Play Injury Risk

Gaelic Football had a match play injury risk that was greater than soccer but less than rugby.

Gaelic football match play injury risk is 1.5 – 2.6 times greater than soccer.

Match play injury incidence is 68% for Gaelic football and 74% for rugby union.

Training Injury Risk

Gaelic football training injury rates are higher than training injury rates for rugby union.

Gaelic football training injury incidence is 4.06 per 1000 hours compared to 2 – 3.5 per 1000 hours for rugby union.

Discrepancies in injury definition and division between training and match injury rates in the research does not allow for direct comparison between Gaelic football, AFL and rugby union.

Injury Rates per Season

Over the four year study there were 1.19 injuries reported per player per season. In a squad of 34 players that accounts for 40 injuries over the season.

86% of these injuries will result in loss of match play for at least one week.

Location of Injury 

Hamstring injury was most common, accounting for 24% of all injuries. Cruciate injuries accounted for 1.5% of all injuries.

Tissue Injured                                  % of all Injuries                      Days to return to play

  1. Muscle                                                  42.6%                                19.7
  2. Ligament                                                13.2%                                 25.3 (excl Cruciate)
  3. Tendon                                                   9.2%                                   32.4
  4. Bone                                                       4.4%                                   38.7 (excl severe fractures)

Murphy et al (2012) Incidence of Injury in Gaelic Football: A 4-year prospective study The American Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. XX, No. X DOI: 10.1177/036354651.2455315

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