GAA Football

'It all got very real, very quickly': Cavan's Conor Moynagh on lockdown in New Zealand

Conor Moynagh opted to take a year away from inter-county football to go travelling, and now finds himself locked down in New Zealand. Picture by Philip Walsh

IT was to be the trip of a lifetime and, so far, it has been – but Cavan footballer Conor Moynagh finds himself locked down in New Zealand for the foreseeable future as safeguarding measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19 kick into gear.

The 27-year-old, an Allstar nominee last year after his best campaign in Breffni blue, opted to take a year away from the inter-county scene to travel the world.

Since leaving Ireland last November he has been in Canada, Colombia, Panama, a 48-hour trip back to Dublin for the Allstar awards night, Colombia again, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia.

Last week prime minister Jacinda Ardern implored New Zealanders to “stay local” during a four-week countrywide lockdown – moving much more decisively than Britain and Ireland at this stage of the spread, with New Zealand’s first coronavirus-related death coming yesterday.

It is hoped those strict measures, which include physical distancing, case isolation, household quarantine and closing schools and universities, could limit deaths in the country to 0.0004 per cent of the population, about 20 people. Those restrictions could potentially remain in place until a vaccine or other treatment is developed.

“Ireland was a couple of weeks ahead of us down here, and you could see what direction it was going,” said Moynagh.

“I had two weeks in New Zealand at beginning of February then went to Australia for a month. I was supposed to travel up the east coast but things were starting to get a little more serious, with borders closing and stuff.

“I only had a 90 day visa for Australia so if I got locked in and was there illegally, they’d just deport me home, so I jumped on a plane back to New Zealand and changed my visa here to a 12 month visa. That gives me time to ride this out, that I can stay here legally until this all blows over – whenever that is.

“It’s all got very real, very quickly. You can only leave your house if you’re going to the grocery shop or for a run.

“I tried to buy a game, Cards against Humanity, so we would have something to do but you can’t get online deliveries any more… we tried to get a table-tennis table as well and that was a no-go. You need to pass the time some way.

“We’re all alright, but it’s going to be a cosy four weeks in the apartment. That’s to begin with, it could be extended.”

With his father also stranded overseas, the impact of their absence has also been felt close to home.

Patrick Moynagh, chairman of Middle East GAA, does work in Saudi Arabia and was unable to get home to Drumgoon before the coronavirus crisis escalated.

“My dad’s stuck there, he wasn’t able to get home either.

“He would prefer to be at home because my sister turns 18 this week and he wants to be there, now obviously he can’t, and he wants to be able to keep an eye on his mother and my mum’s mother.

“For me, I find it’s a little bit easier to be away from home at the minute because everybody I know out here is fit and healthy, and hopefully fine; I don’t have to worry about maybe meeting my grandparents or passing it onto them.”

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