Brain trauma cuts football career short

A BRAIN trauma injury has tragically cut short former North Ballarat Rebel Tim Houlihan’s football career.

Houlihan, 24, decided to retire after seeking advice from specialist doctors in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.

His father, Tom Houlihan, said it was a devastating end to a promising football career, but his son’s health had to come first.

“He had been knocked out one too many times, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“I’m extremely proud of everything that he’s achieved, but it’s just one of those unfortunate things.”

Houlihan’s latest head injury came in the final round of the 2012 South Australian National Football League season, when he was knocked out following a sling tackle while playing for South Adelaide.

Houlihan, who hails from Harrow-Balmoral in the Wimmera, played 15 games in five seasons with West Coast Eagles before he was delisted at the end of 2011.

He is not the first footballer to hang up his boots due to serious head injury.

Former Melbourne player Daniel Bell sought compensation from the Demons in 2011 when he was diagnosed with brain damage and claimed the injury was linked to a series of concussions he sustained in his career.

Houlihan’s retirement announcement comes the same week dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams revealed his battle with a degenerative brain disease and called on the league for more protection for hard-at-it players.

North Ballarat Rebels regional manager Phil Partington said the Rebels and TAC Cup, where Houlihan launched his career, maintained a strong and conservative approach to concussion.

Partington said if a Rebels player was knocked in the head, the player would be pulled from the game and benched for at least the next one to two weeks.

AFL Victoria Wimmera development manager Geoff Burdett said he was sad to hear Houlihan’s news.

Burdett described Houlihan as a hard-running wingman with elite athletic ability.

Houlihan was  a talented footballer and runner from an early age and was drafted from the Rebels at pick 43 in the 2006 AFL National Draft.

The AFL will host a Concussion in Football Conference to discuss the issue next month.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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