PhD student, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science

Head of Research, Football Association of Ireland

Dan Horan, Head of Research at the Football Association of Ireland, is currently studying for a PhD at the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science under the supervision of Professor Eamonn Delahunt.

Dan has a long association with UCD having first attended in 1994 as the recipient of a soccer scholarship. In 1995, he was a League of Ireland First Division title winner alongside Dr Seamus Kelly of the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science and Andrew Myler, current UCD Men’s League of Ireland team manager. Dan also played in the League of Ireland with Bray Wanderers and received a soccer scholarship to Boston College in the U.S.A.

Having completed his BComm degree in UCD in 1998 he went on to complete an MSc in Administrative Studies in Boston College in 1999. Following this, he undertook an MSc in Exercise and Health Sciences in University of Bristol in 2000 and an MSc in Physiotherapy (pre-reg) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 2006. He is currently in the final year of his PhD studies in UCD.

He has worked as a strength and conditioning coach and chartered physiotherapist with Irish international football teams for 15 years (including 5 years as fitness coach for the Ireland men’s senior international team) and currently has a role driving research in Irish football.

In 2019, Dan received an Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme (Postgraduate) Award (EPSPG/2019/543) for his PhD project titled: ‘Game-changer! Injury surveillance in elite-level women’s football in Ireland: thinking bigger and working together’.

Dan’s PhD research is a collaboration between the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science and the Football Association of Ireland and is being supervised by Professor Eamonn Delahunt. Dan’s co-authors on the recent publication in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports ‘Injuries in elite-level women’s football-a two year prospective study in the Irish Women’s National League’ were Professor Eamonn Delahunt, Professor Catherine Blake (Head of the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science), Dr Seamus Kelly (UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science), Dr Mark Roe (UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science) and Professor Martin Hägglund (Linköping University in Sweden), an international expert on injury epidemiology in women’s and men’s football.

The research consisted of a two-season prospective injury surveillance study in the Women’s National League resulting in a recommendation that clubs in the WNL in Ireland should implement injury risk mitigation strategies, with a particular focus on injuries with a high injury burden.

Co-author Professor Catherine Blake said 'UCD, with the support of the Irish Research Council, is delighted to be collaborating with the FAI on this important research exploring injuries in women's football in Ireland. As the first study of its kind to be conducted in Ireland, it will provide all stakeholders in the game with key insights that we hope will lead to the implementation of practical strategies to reduce the risk of injury in female footballers in Ireland and internationally.'

Co-author Professor Martin Hägglund said 'the protection of player’s health and welfare is central to all football governing bodies. This unique injury surveillance project in women’s elite football in Ireland will be crucial to inform injury risk mitigation strategies in the FAI and in the clubs. I am particularly happy that the project focuses on women’s football – an under-researched area – and impressed by the great response and investment from the FAI and the participating clubs and staff. Soft-tissue injuries, such as knee and ankle sprains and thigh muscle injuries, were the most burdensome for the clubs and should be a particular focus for preventive measures.'  

Summaries of the research findings can be seen in the infographics below. The full article is available here: Injuries in elite-level women's football.