Nickey Brennan reveals Covid-19 ordeal

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan has spoken emotionally about his coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent recovery.
Nickey Brennan reveals Covid-19 ordeal
Nickey Brennan: ‘Minimum prospect’ of games at inter-county level this year.

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan has spoken emotionally about his coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent recovery.

Having fallen ill just before Easter, the five-time All-Ireland SHC winner with Kilkenny tested positive for Covid-19 and was laid low for 10 days, describing them as one of the toughest periods of his life.

The Conahy Shamrocks man, 66, lost 20 pounds as he battled with the disease.

“I’m a lot better now but I went through a very rough period and I’m very grateful and thankful to Our Lord that I came through it okay,” Brennan told the Irish Examiner.

“I have never experienced anything like it nor do I hope to ever again.

“It takes a hell of a lot of you. I’m getting the energy levels back up now. I’m still a bit hoarse as you can hear but I’m getting there.”

An avid swimmer, Brennan believes his lung capacity and ability to control his breathing stood to him during the ordeal. “It definitely helped me. I have always loved swimming and it stood to me.”

Brennan reengaged himself with current affairs and the latest in the GAA in recent days and regards there being “minimum prospect” of inter-county action in 2020.

He watched on as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar suggested on The Late, Late Show on Friday night that the All-Ireland championships could be played behind closed doors beginning in August or September. However, he considers the possibility a remote one.

“I wouldn’t be too critical of the Government because they’re trying to get the balance right and give people something to look forward to. I’m not sure if it was a bit of a throwaway remark by the Taoiseach. I don’t think he was trying to mislead people, he just made a comment.

“My own view is that we are a long way away from returning to games and if there are games to return they will be at club level. I see minimum prospect of games this year at inter-county level. Minimum prospect.”

Purely on a safety and scale basis, Brennan accepts the inter-county game would be easier to bring back than club activity. However, he couldn’t see much purpose in hosting matches with barely anyone permitted to attend them.

“It’s not an unreasonable point,” he says of the lower risks attached to bringing back the county game first, “but the notion of two teams rattling up to Thurles, while there might be 100 people at the match, I think it would be a bit surreal.

"It would be kind of a case of playing off the championships at the different levels for the sake of it. If you get to that stage, counties are still going to want to win and there will still be intense training and there will still be intense, physical contact both in training and in matches. So that goes against the grain of everything we have been told over the last couple of months.

“When I’m talking about the club returning, I’m talking about at least October and that’s only a long shot in my view.”

Meanwhile, the GAA’s Management Committee could convene via teleconference later this week to discuss the Government’s roadmap that would permit the return of Gaelic Games in front of reduced crowds the week beginning July 20.

It has been reported that one of the plans being considered involves the remaining Allianz Football Leagues taking place in August before straight knock-out All-Ireland championships in the autumn.

The GAA intend for clubs to return to action first and this could be followed by games such as Cork v Louth in Division 3 in which Ronan McCarthy’s men likely need only a point to gain promotion for 2021.

In the event of a straight knock-out Championship, the football competition would not require a draw. However, as both the Leinster and Munster senior hurling championships are arranged by roster there would have to be draws to ascertain who would face who and in Munster which team would receive a bye to the semi-finals.

In Leinster prior to the introduction of the provincial round-robin structure in 2018, the defending champions received passage to the last four and Wexford may do so again.

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