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28th Oct 2021

Study shows GAA players more prone to binge drinking than their peers

Niall McIntyre

GAA players are more prone to ‘binge-drinking’ than their non-playing peers, according to a recent GPA survey.

717 current inter-county GAA players took part in the survey, organised by a team of researchers from universities and hospitals, with 93% revealing that they have engaged in ‘binge drinking.’ While that sounds very alarming, it might surprise some to learn that the criteria which takes alcohol consumption from ‘moderate’ to ‘binge’ is just five drinks in one sitting.

More worryingly, almost three quarters of these players admitted to showing signs of “adverse alcohol use,” while two thirds have experienced alcohol-related harm in the last year. These incidences involved relationship issues, missing work or college and physical fights that occurred while drinking. On the extreme end of the scale, 2% of players had to go to A & E because of their drinking.

The majority of the respondents were male, unmarried, non-smokers, in full-time employment and were still living with their parents.

The figures may sound stark but the conclusion is hardly surprising. There is an undeniable drinking culture in the GAA which, back in 2017, was best summarised by Tomás Ó Sé in his Irish Independent column. Drinking bans are a common theme among inter-county and even club squads these days and the Kerryman feels that they cause more harm than good, in that when players are allowed to drink, they have the urge to completely let loose.

“Rugby and soccer players can socialise like adults, because they don’t face the same expectation to remain abstemious that GAA players face. As a consequence, they can have their three or four beers routinely and leave it at that.

That’s the difference. He (A rugby or soccer player) might do that every single week and it’s not going to harm him in the slightest. A GAA county man might go socialising three times in six months but, every time he does, it’s like Armageddon for his vital organs.”

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