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Eoin Donnelly: 'I see patients coming into the Ulster Hospital and my worries all pale into insignificance'



Eoin Donnelly

Eoin Donnelly

Eoin Donnelly

Eoin Donnelly

Eoin Donnelly

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Eoin Donnelly, the Fermanagh senior football team captain and a physiotherapist attached to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald. He is hoping that his team can still avoid the drop from Division Two of the Allianz Football League and perhaps make an impact in the Ulster Championship - assuming both competitions are staged, that is.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I am in good form and obviously trying to look after myself as best as I can in the circumstances. I try to focus on my work as a physiotherapist although obviously a lot of people are entering hospitals just now suffering from the coronavirus and this persuades me to toe the line in relation to the restrictions that are in force.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: Obviously in the hospital where I work the coronavirus is a consistent topic of discussion and the fact that it is prevalent keeps us all on our toes. While I am focused on remaining as healthy as I can be myself, I also think about my family in Fermanagh and maintain contact with them in these difficult times. Obviously I don't get to see my playing colleagues and it's not possible to socialise to any degree so I find myself spending more time indoors than is usual for me.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: Because there is no squad training at present, all the Fermanagh players are following their own individual training schedules which have been outlined by the management team. I try to do as much as I possibly can as I would like to be in good shape when the action resumes. I think it is important to stick to a strict training routine even though it is still a solo effort.

Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: Well, Fermanagh are at the basement of Division Two of the Allianz League but I am trying to be as positive as I can be in relation to our prospects of avoiding relegation. I look at those who are coming into the Ulster Hospital as patients and I realise that my worries pale into insignificance when compared to theirs. I try to keep a smile on my face, engage with people and be as helpful as I can and I find that this lifts my spirits.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I am actually very encouraged by the attitude and professionalism of my colleagues in the Ulster Hospital. They go about their duties with the minimum of fuss and show great calmness. I think we inspire each other in a sense and I feel privileged to be part of a health service that is rising to the occasion in combating the coronavirus.

Q: Sports fans are staying at home, too. Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think they might like?

A: I think that the film The Usual Suspects is a very good movie and has appeal for most people. It is a fairly gripping crime thriller and can certainly hold one's attention. In terms of a book, I would go for any good sporting autobiography. Some excellent books in this connection have come on the market in recent times. As for box sets, I find the 30 For 30 ESPN documentaries, highlighting interesting people and events in sports history, fascinating.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: I have come to appreciate more the fact that I am involved in competitive sport for which there is a very strong appetite. We may be in a lockdown situation at the minute but this has taught me to appreciate more fully the enjoyment and satisfaction that participation in sport brings me. I also see the great work that many people are doing on a voluntary basis and this further cements my faith in human nature if the truth be told.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: I am looking forward to going to Fermanagh to see my family. Obviously travel is a no-no at this point in time but I am hopeful that the restrictions will be eased shortly. I know there are many people in the same boat as myself so in the meantime I will remain focused on my work and hope that the future will take care of itself.

Q: And what message do you have for Fermanagh fans?

A: Well, we probably surprised the pundits by reaching the Ulster final a couple of years ago but as things stand today we are in danger of slipping into Division Three of the Allianz League. I would like fans to stay with us and with their support we can turn the corner. We want to do well for them in particular because they have shown in the recent past that they can rally behind us which invariably serves to gives us a lift.

Belfast Telegraph