Fri. Nov 18th, 2022

Tyrone footballer Hugh Pat McGeary finally feels safe after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
A diabetic who works in a hospital, he faces into the 2021 season with a measure of confidence, having diminished a vulnerability that threatened his involvement.
The 28-year-old plays a key role in keeping essential services running at Belfasts Royal Victoria Hospital.
A mechanical engineer with a maintenance firm at one of the Norths largest healthcare facilities, McGeary now travels to work relieved of the dread that accompanied him on the daily journey for the past 10 months.
It will help me fight it. I have always been told to be careful with the Covid because of the diabetes, he said.
I have been one of the lucky ones, to get it so early. Being a diabetic, and also working in the Royal is fortunate enough too, so it killed two birds with one stone. I know I would have been high up on the list anyway to get it, but Im happy to have got it.
It does give you that bit of extra confidence to go out there and do what you can do, and that bit of confidence that you wont be spreading it, if you did have it.
The early days of the pandemic wrought fear on the Pomeroy clubman as he set off each morning on the 50-odd mile drive to Belfast.
At the start it was a bit scary, Im not going to lie. Driving down to work in the very first lockdown, you didnt know what to expect. I remember driving down to Belfast, and you would have been lucky to meet one vehicle on the road.
It was like an apocalyptic event back then, thats what you were dealing with.
All the tricks of the defensive trade learnt over the years as a Tyrone corner back were irrelevant. Now it was the defences provided by the immune system that meant everything.
I kept in good touch with Damien ODonnell, my doctor, and the big thing for me was keeping my immune system right and keeping the vitamins high to help the body to fight it. It is difficult, especially when youre working in the Royal, where it was rampant at one stage. We know the NHS is under pressure as it is.
McGeary sees little merit in a rapid testing programme for inter-county GAA players as a tool in accelerating the start of the 2021 season.
If you did the test on a Thursday night and came back in the Sunday, it wouldnt be workable.
Unless they could do fast testing at the pitch, where you could know there and then if you were negative or positive, before you go out and train.
And the NHS is under enough pressure with testing and all other things. I think the last thing the NHS would need is elite sportsmen pulling the testing facilities away from the hospitals. At the end of the day, I dont think its required to get the GAA back on its feet. Last year it was well controlled, with no crowds, travelling in single cars, and that is about the best you can do. I think if you bring testing into it, you could cause more upset than anything.