Niall Bradley pictured in hospital following the incident.
A County Derry GAA club is seeking legal advice after one of their players sustained a serious injury during the opening league game of the season.
Niall Bradley now faces up to eight months off work, and will not be compensated for loss of earnings due to a suspension of the GAA’s loss of earnings scheme.
The player dislocated his kneecap playing for Greenlough against Kilrea in the opening round of this season's All-County Football League after landing awkwardly while catching a kick out.
Only a quick response from local medics and the Air Ambulance saved Niall from having to have his leg amputated as a result of the injuries.
The St Oliver Plunkett's midfielder now faces a six to eight month lay-off from his manual job with SDC Trailers, but a pause in the GAA's loss of earnings cover means he will be left out of pocket.
The final catch of Niall Bradley's football career which led to the injury. Pic: Kerri Bradley
Due to falling gate receipts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the GAA took the decision in January to pause the loss of earnings cover from January 1 to May 31 2021.
In a letter sent to county boards on May 24, the GAA outlined the situation, stating that a 2 million Euro shortfall in the GAA Injury Fund was recorded in 2020 and projecting a similar situation for 2021.
A vote was taken to levy all GAA clubs in Ireland with a 25% increase to their 2021/22 Player Injury Fund Premium in order to reinstate the loss of earnings cover from June 1.
However, Derry GAA scheduled a round of fixtures for the weekend of May 30, two days before the loss of earnings cover was to be reinstated.
It was during this round of fixtures that Niall Bradley sustained an injury that has ended his football career.
Greenlough contacted Derry County Board about the incident, but were informed that Niall's loss of earnings would not be covered as the incident took place before the cover was reinstated.
Niall could have lost his leg had it not been for the assistance of the Air Ambulance.
Derry GAA advised the club secretary to contact the GAA centrally, and they received a reply reiterating that the former Derry underage player would not be compensated for loss of earnings.
The club are now considering legal options.
A club spokesperson said Niall had been let down by the authorities.
“We have a player whose football career is over,” they said.
“He will be off work for a least eight to ten months. He has a young family and just recently moved into a new house. We feel there has to be a duty of care to him in this instance.
“We as a club feel that matches should not have been scheduled by Derry CCC when the proper insurance cover was not in place. In this instance it was 48 hours out.
“Basically every senior & reserve player in Derry took the field for their first league game on May 30 with no cover for loss of wages should they have got injured.”
Players from both teams offered assistance to Niall in the immediate aftermath of the injury.
Derry GAA said there had been both intercounty and club fixtures scheduled nationally before the loss of earnings cover was restored.
“Intercounty fixtures and club fixtures were scheduled nationally prior to the June 1 restoration of the loss of earnings component of the player injury fund,” said a spokesperson.
“Derry GAA lobbied and voted at Central Council level for the restoration of the scheme.
“Derry GAA continues to work with central units of the GAA on behalf of all affected players with the aim of bringing these matters to a satisfactory conclusion.”
Derry Now have also contacted the GAA centrally for comment.
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