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Eugene Magee: I have the utmost admiration for all the key workers like supermarket staff and bus drivers



Eugene Magee

Eugene Magee

�INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

Eugene Magee and daughter Emma

Eugene Magee and daughter Emma

Eugene Magee

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 Eugene Magee, Ireland's most-capped male hockey player with 295 appearances who plays club hockey for Banbridge.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I am keeping well, thanks. So, too, are my wife Aoibhne and two children, Emma (2), and Lorcan (four months), I have been able to spend more time with the family at home which is one of the positives to come out of this. However, it's difficult for all of us not being able to see or spend time with our respective parents. The kids are too young to know what's going on and why they can't see their grandparents. But we all go out as a family for walks and being out in the fresh air helps keep us sane.


Eugene Magee and daughter Emma

Eugene Magee and daughter Emma

Eugene Magee and daughter Emma


Q: How have you been affected?

A: I am working from home in my job as a software engineer with BRS Golf. We administer systems and provide golfers with a service so there has been an additional workload because golf has now returned to the sporting landscape. I have been trying to balance the increased workload with family commitments and keeping the kids entertained. My wife has been doing a terrific job . She is still on maternity leave but I feel it's only right that I help out.

I celebrated my 34th birthday last month and it was a little bizarre. My extended family did a drive past our house and sang 'happy birthday' through the window and baked a cake for me so that was a nice surprise, if a little different from the normal celebration.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: Training helps break up the isolation. We have a team WhatsApp group and it has spurred us all on as we have been set work-out challenges three or four times a week. Those drills and exercises keep us in the team zone. Banbridge were in a rich vein of form post-Christmas and hopefully we'll carry that on into the new season when we get the green light to start playing again.

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

A: Our coach, Gordon Cracknell, and his assistants, Scott McCandless and Gareth Lennox, regularly keep in touch with the players. That's encouraging and great for team morale. There are quite a few great characters in the squad and there would be quite a bit of social interaction in normal circumstances as is the case now albeit in a different manner. You need that bit of contact and a bit of fun and jovial communication keeps spirits up.

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

A: Being able to spend more time with my family has been the main positive for me. The wider family and friends are also important to me and we have a quiz every week which helps us get to know each other better. It's not just the normal quiz formula - we do our best to expand it to include questions about various things like favourite holiday destinations and favourite food and the like.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might like?

A: 'The Last Dance' about American basketball legend Michael Jordan is really enjoyable and insightful. I also enjoyed the film 'Green Book' which is a comedy-drama about an American pianist and his experiences during a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. As far as books go, I hope to soon get a chance to read 'The Barcelona Way: How to Create a High Performance Culture' by Damian Hughes.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Above all, how our NHS and other health workers have been under appreciated until this crisis kicked in. But I also have the utmost admiration for all the other critical workers who are keeping the country going - like supermarket staff, petrol station workers and bus and train drivers. You also learn to appreciate your family and time with them more. The social isolation has given me a fresh mentality and a recognition that you need to sometimes take your foot off the gas and reflect.

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

A: I will take the children to see their grandparents. Obviously they haven't seen them properly for almost two months and, being so young, they have changed quite a bit in that time. Emma is talking a lot more and Lorcan has got a lot bigger so that's going to be something for all of us to look forward to. It will also be great to be able to go out in the open air for a walk without any fear or concern.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: One of the most important things I'd say is to be patient and also be optimistic and grateful about what you have and what you can do even in these restrictive times. Follow the medical advice and stick to the rules. It's going to take self-discipline if we are going to get out of this soon.

Belfast Telegraph