Highlights on Off The Ball

02:00 PM-06:00 PM

Highlights on Off The Ball

Over 90% of inter-county players drink to excess in GAA's off-season | ESRI report

Over 90% of inter-county footballers and hurlers who consume alcohol do so to excess throughout t...

Over 90% of inter-county playe...

Over 90% of inter-county players drink to excess in GAA's off-season | ESRI report

Over 90% of inter-county footballers and hurlers who consume alcohol do so to excess throughout the off-season, it has been revealed in a second ESRI report commissioned by the GAA and GPA. 

Analysing the same data from 2016 that was used in formulating the initial report last year, 89% of inter-county GAA players responded positively when asked, 'Do you consume alcohol?'

This figure was marginally higher than the 87% of men aged 18-35 who responded positively to the same question in a Department of Health survey published in 2016. However, a wider consideration of those DoH results showed that only 75% of people asked stated that they had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months.

Although the report confirms that senior inter-county players consume alcohol less often than their counterparts in the general population, they tend to consume more drinks, on average, when alcohol consumption takes place.

Set against a nationwide average of 8.2 drinks consumed by a man aged 18-35 during a typical drinking session, it was found that GAA players, when drinking throughout pre-season, the National League, the Championship or in the off-season, consumed 9.7, 8.5, 8.9 or 11.4 drinks respectively.

Nevertheless, throughout the busier periods of the inter-county schedule, the consumption of alcohol is considerably lower among GAA players.

Asked how often they consumed alcohol during the National League and Championship of the 2016 season, 82% and 93% of players reported consuming alcohol either 'once a month' or 'never', respectively. Only 1% of players who stated that they drink alcohol reported doing so 'once a week' during the Championship.

Despite the irregular patterns, however, the ESRI report confirms that 9 out of 10 inter-county players who consume alcohol do so at a rate that is considered indicative of problematic drinking at stages throughout the year.


Gaelic Footballers vs Hurlers

Overall, 89% of Gaelic footballers in 2016 reported that they consumed alcohol.

In a breakdown of this number along the terms of the National Football League, it was found that players representing Division 1 clubs were the least likely to consume alcohol (85%).

This trend continued through the four divisions with 87% of players in Division 2 consuming alcohol, 91% in Division 3 and 95% in Division 4.

In direct contrast to these findings, it was the inter-county hurlers operating at the elite level who were found to be the more reliable drinkers: MacCarthy Cup (91%), Christy Ring (88%), Nicky Rackard (86%) and Lory Meagher (85%).

While this ESRI report primary dealt with data that had been self-reported by inter-county players, a section of the chapter devoted to 'risky behaviour' considered what players believed their teammates to be engaging in.

Whereas almost 80% of inter-county players are under the impression that certain teammates engage with gambling on a daily or weekly basis, 77% believe that recreational drug use never occurs.

In terms of alcohol consumption, 54% of players believe that teammates engage in excessive alcohol consumption on a monthly basis. However, this section of the study found that players greatly underestimate the level to which teammates actively engage in excessive drinking.

The second such report jointly-commissioned by the GAA and GPA, the ESRI's chosen title highlighted the core concern of the associated bodies: "Safeguarding amateur athletes: an examination of player welfare among senior inter-county Gaelic players."

Download the brand new OffTheBall App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OffTheBall's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.

Read more about

Croke Park ESRI GAA GPA Gaelic Football Hurling John Horan Paul Flynn