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GAA man Aidan Breen reveals effects of his coronavirus infection

Fermanagh star believes he contracted virus at team training session


Body shock: Aidan Breen (right) says Covid-19 left him struggling for energy for a number of days

Body shock: Aidan Breen (right) says Covid-19 left him struggling for energy for a number of days

Body shock: Aidan Breen (right) says Covid-19 left him struggling for energy for a number of days

The first GAA player to share his experience of contracting Covid-19 has told how it affected him mentally and physically.

Tuesday night represents Fermanagh GAA's last hope for a postponement of Sunday's scheduled National League game against Clare in Ennis.

The county will make an appeal for a rearrangement based around their 17 players who are currently isolating, after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the camp following a collective training session on October 2.

Clare have already offered to play the game in midweek at a venue nearby, while Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin has questioned the 'integrity' of the league if such a fixture was allowed to take place in the midst of such a public health risk.


Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin

Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin

�INPHO/James Crombie

Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin

Aidan Breen believes he became infected at the October 2 session and has been isolating - along with the rest of his family - after taking a test the following day.

Breen is the first male inter-county player to share his experiences.

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"I went for a test on Sunday morning (October 3rd), for two reasons," he explains.

"There was a bit of a cluster with the few boys in the team and then in Tempo there was a bit of an outbreak. There was one in a local shop and I had been in the shop on the Saturday.

"I suppose the fact I am living with my parents, two people who would be high risk, I said I was going to just go to get tested.

"I felt the test was precautionary because I didn't feel I was in close contact. Luckily, the result came back on the Monday morning early, around 7am. My mother does home help for the elderly and I called her and told her not to go to work. My brother, called him and told him the same."

At the time, Breen was not feeling any physical effects. He was about to leave the house for his work as an electrician before he had to confine himself to his bedroom. For such an outgoing personality, it has not been an easy transition.

"It is tough. Definitely," he adds. "You could be sort of paranoid about it. You hear the rumour mill, stories going around, that my parents had it and they weren't well. There are people actually texting me about it and a couple of phone calls to the house.

"There were more rumours that another lad over the road had it, a player, and he was hospitalised. Again, it wasn't true but a lot of that stuff is going on and you are sitting at home. Your head is away with it."

That was all before the physical effects manifested themselves. For a mobile player operating in the middle third, Breen's stamina is a prized asset. But it is under threat.

"When the symptoms came, they were a couple of very tough days. Once I got over them, it is just boredom you are battling," he explains.

"I had no energy, I had a sore head. I felt very breathless. I went out for a walk one day and you would have swore I ran a marathon. I was caught for breath and had to pull the pin. My legs were like jelly.

"Then you are thinking to yourself, 'Is it all in my head, too?'

"I tried to go for a run on the Wednesday and I just couldn't do it.

"That day it was playing on my mind. With all this time on your hands, you are inclined to go into Google and type in long-term effects of Covid. You see all these people who have a reduced lung capacity and you have to turn your phone off. You would depress yourself, nearly."

On Saturday last, he chanced another light run and, mercifully, it went much better. But it is one thing jogging around the back roads and another taking the hits and punching in the sort of work rate required of the modern game.

Could he be fit in time for the Ulster Championship game against Down in four weeks?

"I would love to be able to say yes. But I obviously, genuinely don't know."

Clare this Sunday?

"I honestly don't know. You can go for a light jog around the place there, but it is not the same as playing an inter-county game. We are not going to get a chance to see what way we are. If I feel alright, do I say, 'Here, I am ready to go,' and then I am done after five minutes?"

He adds: "I imagine there are a lot of people saying we want it postponed because of the position we are in. Which is fair enough, we are in the position we deserve to be.

"The thing that worries me is that if the GAA do not show a bit of flexibility for the teams that are struggling, there are going to be cases covered up and there are teams who might not be honest.

"Close contacts is a big thing. They will continue to play away and the virus will get out of control. I think the GAA have to be flexible, we have 17 players in isolation and this is just our own example. It's not us feeling a bit sorry for ourselves.

"In fairness, the GPA have been very good. They have been in contact with Croke Park a couple of times last week and myself a right few times."

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