GAA Football

Covid recovery isn't straightforward for players: Kevin McKernan

Kevin McKernan tested positive for Covid-19 before Down's Ulster Championship clash with Fermanagh last year. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

SOME clarity on what toll the Covid chaos of the past three weeks has taken on the Tyrone panel will come when their team is named for today’s rescheduled All-Ireland semi-final – but the full picture might not become clear until the dust has settled later on this evening.

Less than a fortnight ago joint boss Feargal Logan revealed that one Red Hand player had been hospitalised, while “20 or more in the group”, 17 of whom are players, had positive tests.

All are understood to have returned to training since, though only today will we discover the full impact.

Last October, eventual Ulster player of the year Thomas Galligan was unable to get out of bed for four days after coming down with the virus and, after walking down to the end of the lane at his house, the Cavan midfielder was “just about” able to make it back.

The impact varies from case to case of course, but Down’s Kevin McKernan tells a similar tale.

He tested positive two-and-a-half weeks out from the Mourne County’s Ulster Championship date with Fermanagh last November and, like Galligan, feared his campaign was over before it had even begun.

“I suffered badly on day four and five,” recalls the Burren man, “tightness in the chest, lying on the couch, arching your back over the edge of the couch to try and get a bit of relief from it.

“You wouldn’t have even entertained a walk around your house. I remember having a couple of conversations with Paddy [Tally] saying ‘that’s my season over’.”

After easing back into gentle running at training, McKernan eventually rejoined training 10 days before the game – and was fit to play 66 minutes against Fermanagh.

“I came out the right side of it day nine and day 10, but I had no run-in at all really.

“It affects different people in different ways. In a lot of other cases, you probably wouldn’t return to play as quick and that’s what Tyrone are going to have to weigh up. If so many players have it, there’s a lot of juggling around energy levels and big decisions to be made.”

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