Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece

Galway physiotherapy clinic ahead of the times

October 6, 2010 - 7:43am
Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

IT’S always nice to get a fresh perspective on sport, and Galway physiotherapist Michael Gallagher offers just that. An expert with over two decades of experience, he is not only highly regarded among his profession but identified among many sportspeople as ‘the’ authority on sport injuries and sports injury prevention in the West of Ireland.

Underlining this, Gallagher – the founder of Baily Point Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic, originally known as Knocknacarra Physiotherapy – has helped to provide the healing hands for Galway senior hurlers for the past two years, with his colleague and Canadian chartered physiotherapist Tricia Strelioff spearheading this endeavour.

Having previously worked with Kildare footballers, he recognises the challenges working with a county team presents, but, nonetheless, he embraces the venture wholeheartedly. “It is like everything in life. When you get involved with a bunch of players – and you get to know them and you can see the sacrifices they make – it is very hard not to get caught up in the whole campaign. It becomes an emotional journey. It wouldn’t be one made with a financially sound head,” laughs Gallagher.

“I do think, though, that they are on the brink of something good,” he says of Galway. “It is twice now they have narrowly missed out, and I think there was a very strong difference in their levels of performances between their first and second years. If they continue on that scale, you would hope that they are going to make the breakthrough.”

No doubt, Gallagher – a noted Gaelic footballer in his youth with Meath club, St Pat’s, Stamullen, and Gormanston College – brings a wealth of experience to the backroom set-up. A first class honours graduate from University College Dublin, he has worked in both private and hospital practices, including Blackrock Clinic, O’Neill Sports Clinic, the Mater, St James’ and St Vincent’s Hospital.

In the late ‘80s, the Meath native, along with his wife Niamh, moved to Galway, working in a private practice in Oranmore, before he was appointed to a senior post in outpatient orthopaedics in the Regional in 1988. Two years later, he set up his own private part-time practice in Knocknacarra, which became so successful that within two months he decided to go full-time with it.

Over the ensuing years, it just continued to grow and grow, until May, 2007, he moved the clinic, which now employs eight people, to the Baily Point in Salthill. “From there, we haven’t really looked back,” he says. “It has afforded us the space we needed all along. For example, in the first month, we treated 200 more patients alone.”

In recent times, though, Gallagher has seen a notable increase in those attending the clinic with sports injuries, outside the regular customer base of GAA, rugby, soccer and athletics. “A couple of sports have really begun to feature on our horizon,” continues Gallagher. “The triathlons have become huge. The frequency of these events and the number of events has meant we are treating a lot of injuries that occur.”

Indeed, people come from all over the county and beyond to avail of the clinic’s expertise . . . and, in truth, it does boast a quality staff, which includes the likes of Strelioff, Richard Hayes, New Zealander Darcy Noel (well-known among the tag rugby community), Pilates instructor Cait McNamara, the vastly experienced Deirdre Kelly, massage therapist Mary Kenny and Scottish-trained Eimear O’Leary, who has just returned from the World Youth Olympic Games, where she was the chartered physiotherapist to the Irish team.

For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.