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*Brian Enright. Photograph: Gary Collins

A tight window of time has left GAA clubs across the county scrambling to get up to championship speed and has resulted in injuries hitting every single team.

Brian Enright of the Cryotherapy Clinic in Ennis, one of only a handful of such facilities in the country has observed that treatment for lower hamstring injuries is up eighty percent in the past month on a typical year.

He explained to The Clare Echo, “Teams made a return in early June back to small group training, my own business opened at the same time and from that moment on there has been a marked increase in injuries. You would assume to see these injuries when the year is spread but when management teams have to compress nearly a six month pre-season into a one month pre-season injuries are going to occur”.

Most prevalent has been lower hamstring injuries which occur just above the back of the knee. “These would be injuries primarily associated with an overload on the muscle which transcends to the tendons and the tendons starts taking the load and it’s not able for it, that is when the injury occurs. It’s down to players coming back from training at different levels of fitness, with the compressed training schedule that they are under where there is a lot of games because of increased panel sizes, a lot of challenge matches and the compression of management trying to do skills as well as aerobic so players are beginning to break down. That is what I’ve noticed over the last two to three weeks, nothing too serious but a definite trend in the lower hamstring injury in particular”.

Other injuries cropping up include bruised ribs, broken fingers and slight dislocations of collarbones which are normal in a given season, “but the big one this year has been the lower hamstring by up on eighty percent I would say,” the Newmarket-on-Fergus native calculated.

With no J1 visas or foreign holidays, Enright flagged that bigger panel sizes and the short time-frame of preparation are adding to the injury risk. “Most teams have their S&C personnel so they’re in a good position with those people but when you hear a draw and you’re maybe playing your next door neighbour or playing a club you played last year suddenly adrenaline kicks in, management teams and players up the ante, intensity gets bigger and bigger leading to injuries, there is no way to avoid them. You have larger panel sizes, for the first time in maybe years panel sizes could have increased by anything up to ten players with everyone being around and no one going on holidays, there is a greater intensity to training, that also leads to injuries”.

Closed gyms also factored into the rise in injuries. A former coach to the Clare senior camogie team, Brian outlined that while the spike of lower hamstring injuries is different, the recovery time should remain the same. “The actual hamstring injuries that I’m seeing while they may not be acute injuries, they are nothing beyond a grade one injury which would be stiffness and soreness and maybe a slight strain. The problem is the time to recover is quite short because you cannot go back if you’ve a game in two weeks if an injury is seven days before a return to action you must allow yourself time on the field to build up your strength again before the game, the tight time limit is the problem really more so than the extent of the injury”.

Like many business owners across the country, the Cryotherapy Clinic which is in operation in Ennis since 2009 spent three months shut. “Ironically enough I opened my doors on March 13th 2009 and I closed them this year on Friday March 13th for the first time in eleven years and I was closed for three months, not knowing if I would reopen or not. Since I’ve reopened there has been physical changes to the clinic, it is quite a spacious clinic anyway, there is no problem with social distancing, the Cryo is non-contact anyway so I’m fortunate that hands-on isn’t necessarily a must-do treatment, the treatment is pretty much hands off which is a huge advantage but I lost three months as did many businesses, I’m fortunate and delighted to be back and hopefully we’ll stay open for the rest of the year”.

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