Former footballer of the year Steven McDonnell is optimistic his club Killeavy will return to training in the coming days after their Covid-19 scare.
Five players tested positive last week thus prompting the club to suspend activities and the Armagh County Board to postpone their senior football league game against Granemore on Friday.
McDonnell and his family were among the 125 club members who presented themselves for testing over the weekend and have all returned negative. The indications are they will be able to field a team against neighbours Dromintee in their next league game this Friday.
“Before the positive tests, the club had been treating Covid very seriously and doing everything they were meant to be doing since we were allowed to go back playing,” says the former Armagh star. “It’s just unfortunate that a few guys picked it up and in the meantime the club has done everything to try and get rid of the virus in the area.
“I went down to the test centre the other day and there was a traffic jam of Killeavy cars and they have all come back negative. There’s a determination and a responsibility by everyone to get through this.”
There are indications the virus might have been spread in a car pool of players and it has been an eye-opener for young adults, McDonnell believes.
“When the gates of the club open again, it’s vital we stick to the guidelines and the precautionary measures that the club had been stressing.”
In a message posted to members on Sunday, Killeavy chairman Michael O’Neill also suggested the club could be back to full activities later this week. “I would like to thank all our coaches and players who have undergone COVID testing over the last few days.
“As of this moment, we have received news of 125 negative tests and no further positive results. These results give us tremendous confidence that we will be able to make a speedy return to training and matches. The Executive Committee will now be in discussions with medical personnel and the Armagh County Board and will issue further updates when available.”
McDonnell is managing Tyrone club Clonoe this season and kept them informed of his health situation. “For their peace of mind, it was important that I got it done as well. Throughout the whole process, I have been liaising with their club chairman. I was 99% sure I didn’t have it and I made it 100% clear to the players that I wasn’t in the vicinity of the players who contracted it in Killeavy.
“It’s important that all of Tyrone know that I’m not travelling up there and bringing something with me to them. You just want to nip this in the bud and get the gates of the club open as safe and as soon as possible.
“I’m sure for the Covid-19 supervisors in our club and for the senior management it’s been a turbulent few days. I’m sure they will be glad to see the other end of this but they have been a credit to the club in how they’ve dealt with it.”
Killeavy’s neighbours Forkhill also stood down after a club member reported that they had been in contact with a person who later tested positive for Covid-19. However, they were permitted to resume activities after a number of tests were returned negative.
Meanwhile, Galway defender John Daly is set to miss the inter-county season after suffering a knee injury with his club Mountbellew-Moylough. The impressive centre-back, who made his debut last year, started in all but one of the Tribesmen’s five Allianz Division 1 games earlier in the season.
The setback is expected to sideline 22-year-old Daly for a minimum of six months and presents a headache for Pádraic Joyce although time is on the manager’s side ahead of the resumption of their Allianz League campaign on October 17 or 18 followed by the Connacht SFC semi-final clash with Sligo on November 7 or 8.
Elsewhere, there are hopes Tyrone pair Pádraig Hampsey and Ronan O’Neill will be fit for their respective clubs’ championship openers after they limped out of the Coalisland-Omagh game at the weekend. Both men suffered hamstring issues and Hampsey’s Coalisland face Clonoe on August 13 while O’Neill’s Omagh clash with Dromore on August 16.