World Cup silver medallist Shirley McCay has endorsed Sport Northern Ireland’s new website to combat concussion.
McCay was among a number of local sporting stars present for the launch of ConcussionNI.net at the Titanic Building which is also available to download as an app and urges the sporting community to ‘Know the Score’ when it comes to concussion.
The Pegasus midfielder was part of the Ireland side that created history in London by reaching the World Cup Final and while hockey is classed as a ‘non-contact’ sport, there remains a real danger of concussion.
“Hockey is non-contact but when the ball is travelling at 140km per hour and you get a glance of it you know all about it,” said the Omagh woman.
“I think it is really important to recognise that and address it in schools and clubs.”
As well as playing McCay also coaches the sport and that has made her more aware of the dangers involved and welcomes any research to help understand concussion.
“Only as recently as two weeks ago we had a couple of concussions in an Under-18 squad that I coach and I think it is important at grassroots level for coaches, teachers, athletes and parents to be really aware of the symptoms, how to recognise it, how to deal with it and how to get back to play,” said McCay.
“I think the more information the better and the app is so interactive and it really looks fantastic and it’s there and it is always on your phone.
“I think that is the most important thing that it is easy accessible, it’s easily interactive and the information is there.”
Hockey is taking steps to minimise concussion in games.
“In recent years there has been the introduction of face masks for the defenders who come in to defend penalty corners,” explanined McCay.
“I think that is massive and also the use of gum shields and those protective measure to try to make sure that we keep it as safe as we can.
“If you are in any sport or any impact you know there is always that risk so if we can educate as many people as we can to the dangers of concussion all the better.”
McCay is still cherishing the memories of Ireland’s remarkable feat at the World Cup.
“It was an incredible few weeks and it has been pretty surreal and it still is, it is hard to comprehend what we have achieved and what has come with it,” she said.
“We went into the tournament with confidence, we were underdogs but we knew we had the potential to cause a few upsets.
“I don’t think we knew we could get as far as we did but we just weren’t there to take part.
“As the results kept going we got our feet under the table and the confidence grew and grew and we knew we were capable of something.
“I was disappointed how we played in the final, we conceded early and we didn’t get a foothold in the game that we’d have like but ultimately I think we were the real winners and it was phenomenal to get that far and have the silver medal round our necks,” added McCay.