Offaly’s Annie Kehoe is faithful to county as career put on hold

Imagine if you had given up your job to concentrate fully on inter-county football for 2020.

That was something that Offaly ladies football captain Annie Kehoe did late last year as she parked her burgeoning cheffing career, having moved home to Tullamore with the aim of succeeding in the county colours.

At 25 years old, Kehoe has years of success in the kitchen ahead of her. A graduate of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, she went on to teach at the school alongside one of her idols, Darina Allen. She has worked as a chef closer to home as well as in Italy’s Tuscany region, but the pull of ladies football convinced Annie to make the drastic move before the worldwide pause arrived.

“It’s a decision I have always had to make. I always had to mix my career and sport. Cheffing doesn’t really go well with football with the hours you have to work,” said Kehoe.

“It’s not easy to find a job either. While there are lots of artisan, organic cafes in places like Cork and Dublin, there are not a whole lot of options in the midlands. It has always been that struggle, whether to take a job away somewhere or stay home and play football.

“For the last two years, football has kind of won that battle. I have been lucky to find work close to home but I left my job before Christmas to fully concentrate on playing football.

“I was even offered a job in Dublin, but then I decided that I’d give at least one more proper year of committing to football. I don’t like half committing, especially the county game. If I’m in it, I’m in it 100 per cent.”

Her love of ladies football, organic cooking and horticulture was nurtured on the family farm near Tullamore. Annie’s uncle Michael Scully was her major Gaelic Games influence, her parents, Mary and Seamus, ensured their grá for nature and horticulture rubbed off too, while her time in Ballymaloe transformed the sparks of interest in cuisine into a raging fire.

“I went straight out of school and went down to Ballymaloe in Cork. I kind got sucked into that and after the course I ended up working there for a couple of years too. It was a brilliant experience, I really enjoyed it,” she explained.

“I always wanted to concentrate on cooking and I loved it down there. To be honest I’d go back in the morning if I hadn’t such a love of football. It is a different world down there, it is all about proper, good organic food. Darina Allen is an absolute inspiration, it was fantastic working with her, I have to say.”

Annie’s return from her culinary travels coincided with an upturn in success for her home club Tullamore. Crowned Offaly intermediate champions in 2018, they went on to reach a first ever county senior final in 2019, where they were denied by the five-in-a-row chasing Naomh Ciaran’s.

Captaining the club during this period of success and progression is a huge honour for Annie and her family, but being handed the county captaincy earlier this year topped it all.

“It’s funny, I had already made the decision to stick around and I wasn’t expecting the captaincy to be honest. But it’s a huge honour,” she said.

“We have a very young team, and I am the second eldest in the team and I’m only 25. I’m not really one to speak out and be loud, so I wasn’t selected for that reason, but I do commit to things when I say I will. Maybe I lead by example that way.

“There’s myself, Katie (22) and Sarah (20) who play football and having my two younger sisters on the team drives you on too. Sarah has taken the year out of county football this year. She did the leaving cert last year and she played through that, so she wanted a bit of a break. She loves playing, so she’ll be back.

“I am actually quite new to the county set up. I only played a little bit at underage, and I only started playing adult level in 2016. When I moved back home Katie and Sarah were already playing at that stage. They were the ones that got me into it at the start.”

After committing to such a huge personal sacrifice for football this year, Annie remains hopeful of salvaging something from her 2020 football plan. The new Offaly management team led by Garry Daly has not asked the players to undertake regimented training at home due to the uncertainty ahead, but if anyone has the skills, facilities and support to get ready for game time, it’s Annie.

“You get used to not playing – I never thought I’d say that – but I’m lucky that I’m living at home and Katie and Sarah are both at home too. We are keeping each other going.

“My parents are farmers so we have a good patch of grass, which a lot of footballers would pay a lot of money for these days. We’re still training away, doing a bit of football and exercise.

“While the county management didn’t give us programmes to do, when the announcement was made our sports scientist got in contact with us and he provided us with different workouts that would keep us ticking over, rather than pushing on when we don’t really know what the end goal is.

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Cricket could return this summer with fans, says Lancashire CEO

The cricket season resuming with fans in stadiums this summer is not beyond the realms of possibility, according to Lancashire’s CEO Daniel Gidney.

July 1 has been earmarked as the revised proposed start to the cricket season, although competitions like the inaugural Hundred have been pushed back to 2021.

But Gidney believes measures can be put in place to ensure a stadium meets the government’s official social distancing guidelines and enable spectators to enjoy the sport in person.

“People look at stadiums and say there’s no way a stadium can be socially distanced, but actually if you take a 20-25 thousand seater stadium, I believe you could potentially have two or three thousand fans in with seats marked off, one-way systems, yellow-lines like you get at passport control,” Gidney said.

His positivity will bring some hope to sports fans, many of whom are beginning to feel resigned to spectator-free sport for the foreseeable future.

Those steps are tentative at this stage though and cricket, like all sport, will ultimately be guided by the latest public health protocols.

Plans are already in place for bio-secure venues as a means to kick-start the international cricket calendar this summer with England set to face West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland across both Test and limited overs formats.

In order for a venue to be deemed bio-secure, it would need to be divided into designated zones. These zones would separate the two teams, match officials, ground staff and the media, with movement between the zones strictly limited.

Moves are also afoot for England players to return to training this week, and those like Lancashire’s Jos Buttler and Mark Wood have admitted there is anxiety about returning – even for basic skills training.

Gidney admits that one of the biggest obstacles to cricket restarting, besides the health guidelines, is giving players confidence that the playing environment is safe.

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Darts at home

We are down to the final four nights of the first phase of the PDC Home Tour and ‘Big’ John Henderson is back for a second crack at winning.

It is last-chance saloon for some after the PDC announced that with all Tour Card holders given a chance to play, the final groups will be filled by those in second spot, and Gary Anderson who has solved his wifi issues.

After Mike De Dekker, Luke Humphries and Scott Waites became the first beneficiaries, Henderson will be joined by Danny Noppert, Cristo Reyes and Ryan Miekle for Friday night’s Group 29 action and the hope of making it second time lucky.

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PDC Home Tour – Thursday’s fixtures (Group 28)

Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross have been joined by Dave Chisnall, Glen Durrant and Jonny Clayton as big names to have come through along while Carl Wilkinson, Alan Tabern, Jamie Lewis and Nick Kenny are among the surprise winners.

World champion Peter Wright has been the headline name to fall, joined by Gerwyn Price and James Wade from the world’s top 10 in exiting at the opening group stage – the first two will now return over the final nights of action.

All matches are the best of nine legs (first to five), and the winners of each group progress to a second phase which will get underway on Tuesday May 26.

There will be eight groups in the last 32 and each of the group winners to determine the line-up for the last eight. From there, the top two players from two four-player groups then progressing to the Championship Group on Friday June 5.

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GAA referees running for Pieta House in Darkness into Light campaign

The second weekend of May is almost upon us. Usually, the intercounty championships would be starting with matches the length and breadth of Ireland.

Fans would be readying themselves to travel in their thousands, would be adding the final touches to their championship preparation, and the referees would be getting everything in order.

Of course, such a scenario remains months away, but match officials are nonetheless marking the weekend for a good cause.

On Saturday, 72 intercounty referees will each run 11.2km – the average distance they would cover in a championship match – to rain money for the Darkness into Light fundraiser for Pieta House.

“A lot of referees would normally be training to pass the pre-championship fitness test,” David Gough explained to Sky Sports.

“As a way of marking what should have been the first weekend of championship action, which also coincided with that would have been the Pieta House Darkness into Light run, both of those events have been cancelled, and it was a way of supporting Pieta House, which many of the referees have done in the past, and also marking what should have been the start of the championship weekend for hurling and football referees.”

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And so the idea was born.

“Chris Mooney (a Dublin hurling referee) set up a GoFundMe page, he contacted all 72 GAA intercounty referees, and it was decided that we would run the average distance covered by a referee in a championship game – 11.2km according to last year’s GPS data,” continued Gough.

“So in total, that’s going to be 810km, which is roughly running from Wexford Park to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, up to Páirc Mhic Chumhaill in Ballybofey and down to Croke Park.

“It’s not a relay, but referees are encouraged to run their 11.2km at some stage on Saturday, depending what their own personal circumstances are – some of them are getting up to do it in the Darkness into Light part of the morning, and other referees will complete it during the day.

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England’s 2005 Ashes winners wouldn’t be bullied by Australia, says Nasser Hussain

With Sky Sports Cricket broadcasting the Edgbaston Test from the 2005 Ashes in full from Thursday, Nasser Hussain – who will be part of a watchalong for the Test’s thrilling conclusion on Sunday from 12pm – recalls his memories leading into that second Test of the series…

It could have all been so different.

With Australia needing four to win, Steve Harmison bowled a full toss wide outside Brett Lee’s off-stump. Had it gone for four, the Ashes were all but over.

But it didn’t. It was stopped by the sweeper on the boundary for just a single and a couple of balls later England took the final wicket they were desperate for and were right back in the series at 1-1.

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  • Watch Edgbaston 2005 on Sky Sports
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Back then, I was enjoying my new role as a spectator during that 2005 summer having retired a year earlier, but that last day at Edgbaston was difficult.

It was similar to Ben Stokes’ Headingley heroics last summer; as a commentator you are there to do a job, but you can just feel the tension come through from the crowd.

England fans up and down the country would have been hiding behind their sofas in 2005, yet England skipper Michael Vaughan had a real cool, calm mannerism about him.

That was a very, very good England side, and one brilliantly led by Vaughan.

I think it was said ‘he ruled with an iron fist in a velvet glove’, which sums him up pretty well. Vaughan knew when to be firm, but also knew when to let players go out and just express themselves.

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I never felt, even after defeat in the first Test at Lord’s, that it was a case of ‘here we go again’.

If it had been my side, or Michael Atherton’s, or previous England teams, going 1-0 down, there would be some thinking in that. There was no mental baggage and scarring in this team.

You could see that before the series in an ODI at Edgbaston, when Matt Hayden went at Simon Jones after he threw the ball back at him. Straight away, Andrew Strauss came in from one side, Paul Collingwood from the other.

Watching it, you thought ‘ok, this side aren’t going to be bullied by Australia’.

There were more positive signs, in particular with Kevin Pietersen and the way he counter-attacked against Glenn McGrath on his Test debut at Lord’s.

Whatever message Vaughan had put across to his players, along the lines of ‘we’ve got to take it to these Aussies’, you still need someone to front up and do that. You could see it just rattled Australia a little bit.

No one had played McGrath like that before. Ever. Smashing him for six straight into the pavilion, hitting him off his length like that.

And this was McGrath at Lord’s. Where he was historically great.

McGrath at Lord’s

Glenn McGrath took 26 wickets at Lord’s over just three Tests, at an average of 11.50, including match figures of 9-82 in 2005.

With that in mind, McGrath doing his ankle by rolling over on a cricket ball on that first morning at Edgbaston was huge in the context of the series.

As was Ricky Ponting’s decision to bowl at the toss.

I was in the middle at the time, looking at the pitch, and then you heard the commotion, with people rushing over to the Hollies Stand.

Your first thought is it’s just one of these things that happens regularly of a morning, someone has gone over and will soon be back up on their feet. But then you see it’s McGrath, and five minutes later a stretcher is being brought round.

Shane Warne will tell you: he was pushing Ponting to bat. Australia were heavily reliant on Warne and McGrath. So, with no McGrath, it was a case of ‘now what have you got?’

The rest of the Australian bowling attack was not quite firing. Jason Gillespie was a great bowler, but Pietersen had battered him around the park in an ODI at Bristol earlier that summer and there were signs Dizzy was past his best.

England ended up smashing 400 runs on that first day at Edgbaston. On the back of Pietersen’s aggression at Lord’s, Strauss and Marcus Trescothick set the tone from ball one and the crowd lifted.

Ponting can argue, ‘well, if we’d got three more runs’ then it’s a brilliant decision [at the toss], but you knew then that the series was back alive.

While Australia had concerns over their bowling, England’s four-pronged seam attack, backed up by Ashley Giles, had everything.

There was swing from Matthew Hoggard, bounce and pace from Harmison – go back to Lord’s and him scarring Ponting with a bouncer, hitting Justin Langer too – and then you had the pace and skiddy reverse-swing of Jones and man of the series Freddie Flintoff.

Freddie bowled at Edgbaston, according to Ponting, ‘one of the best spells he’d ever faced’, as he took Langer’s wicket and the skipper’s in the same second-innings over. And that’s coming from Ponting!

He was bowling 90mph plus, reversing the ball both ways, in and out to Ponting.

As an ex-England captain who had endured a lot of defeats to Australia, it was nice to see that when you put them under pressure and execute your skills properly, they are fallible just like anyone else.

When I left the England set up, I would be lying if I said I saw them winning the Ashes in a year’s time but, I felt if that bowling attack could stay together, then they would have a chance.

And the key reason England won that series was their bowling attack.

It also needed Australia to not be at their best and, taking nothing away from what England achieved, with McGrath injured for some of the series and Gillespie not at his best, I think they did come down a notch.

That said, the one person who went up in my estimations – if that was even possible – was Shane.

It’s one thing doing it when everything is going in your favour, but when everyone around you is stuttering, for him to put in the performances he did with bat and ball in that series was absolutely phenomenal.

He was a champion cricketer already before that series, but 249 runs and 40 wickets was immense. Forty wickets!

It was a remarkable summer. Some of the scenes: the Pietersen innings at The Oval, the hordes of fans queuing at Old Trafford for the final day, Freddie’s match-winning moments.

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PDC Home Tour: Lisa Ashton takes to her home oche for night four of the competition

In a year of firsts for Lisa Ashton, Sky Sports catches up with the four-time women’s world champion on the season so far and the PDC Home Tour.

In January Ashton became the first woman to secure a Tour card via Q-School and on Monday night, she will join the first darts from home tournament.

It’s testament to Ashton’s achievement earlier this year in Wigan that she is in the event by right – in her position as a Tour Card holder.

“Some players and some people say that ladies shouldn’t be in this or play… but it’s just proving that I know that I can play against these guys,” she tells Sky Sports during another first – a Skype interview.

Ashton this year has taken to life on the Tour well. Fallon Sherrock’s heroics at Alexandra Palace have set a tone for the female sport, and Ashton, who played at Ally Pally in 2018, has picked up the baton.

She said: “[I’ve been] winning some games, getting to the last 64 and last 32, shows that I know I can do it. It’s a big step for me, going into the best players in the world, so I’m just going to keep aiming and looking to take further steps. I’m enjoying it.

“It’s proving that my level is improving with them so I’m hoping that my level keeps going and I can keep getting further and further, and hopefully get through to a finals or semi-finals some day.”

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So, with the season suspended indefinitely, the focus shifts to home life doubling up as tournament life.

Practising at home has now become competing at home and Ashton takes top billing in Monday’s action, such is her appeal and the burgeoning scene that is women’s darts.

“It is something different and it’s going to create something to aim for,” she said. “With us all practising already, it’s going to give us the level that we need to in order to get back into competitive darts.

“Sometimes players play better at home so hopefully it gives us an opportunity to see how our practice is doing against different competitors and the best players in the world. So, it will be nice to get back into that format. “

PDC Home Tour – The winners so far

Ashton will combine her practice, and now her competition, with duties as a grandmother as she takes on Ross Smith, Geert Nentjes and Micky Mansell.

“Ross is one of the guys who I stick with on the Pro Tour, so I’ve known him for quite a few years,” she adds.

“Micky Mansell and Geert Nentjes, I don’t think that I’ve ever played them so it will be interesting to do that and something that I look forward to. Hopefully, all should be good games and I’m looking forward to them.

As the coronavirus pandemic halts the sporting calendar, darts is be commended for thinking on its feet.

A couple of weeks ago darts from home sprang up. Promoters and management company Modus have their own version which is more than 10 days into running, while the polished Remote Darts League has also given players and fans something to enjoy.

Little did anyone know the craving for live sport would see the model headlining the news, the national papers and social media trends and Ashton has been keeping an eye on things – and also sneaking in some competition too.

She said: “I’ve watched one or two of the games, as we’ve got one of the local lads Dave Evans taking part and he’s doing really well.

“We’ve all had a little league to keep practising and to keep our arms going. It’s nice that the PDC has brought this forwards and hopefully ours will take off and we can win one or two again.”

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For the ultra-competitive Ashton, the women’s world champion in four of the last seven editions of the event, the focus is not just on the action on the board, but the window into home life as well.

“I don’t have a board on the wall, I’ve got an easel like Nathan has,” Ashton said. “But, I’ve got my phone set up, my camera ready so that’s interesting but I’m just looking forward to it.

“It makes you think about what’s in the background! You start noticing things that you haven’t before! I’ve made sure that everything’s in the right place and where it should be.

“You’ve got to set a target because you need something to aim for. My first target is to try and win a few games and hopefully get through my group.

“I’d like to get onto the European Pro Tours. The greatest wish that I have is to get into the World Championship again and have another go at the men in that. That’s the biggest one.”

Like most people, Ashton is adapting to lockdown and as well as the challenges, there is an added bonus – and it’s not on the practice board.

“My daughter and my granddaughter are staying with us so it’s nice to spend time with them as opposed to travelling,” she said.

“Often you don’t get much family time. My granddaughter is four so we’ve been in the garden, baking, making things, doing school work.

PDC Home Tour – coming up

“It’s nice to just to have normal ‘nanna time’ and family time, then when she goes to bed I do my practice.

“You realise how much energy they have! Sometimes when they [four-year-old] go to bed you want to too but then I think that I need to get my practice in.”

Ashton has found herself thrown into the limelight on more than one occasion, from her PDC World Championship debut 18 months ago, to Monday evening’s very different set-up.

The standard on the Pro Tour has been unlike any year and the 49-year-old has relished the challenge.

She said: “The ladies’ game is improving but their game is much higher and it’s bringing my game on. Playing against the men, improves my level.

“Every weekend the levels are going sky-high, and we’ve got to raise our game against them, it’s improving all the time and we’ve got to improve with them. It’s bringing my game on and I’m going with them.”

Not only is she on an equal footing on Monday night, she’s likely the star turn – for the watching public, as well as her granddaughter!

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Gloucestershire to break even if no more cricket in 2020, but will furlough players and staff

Gloucestershire say they are set to break even this year, even if the entire county season is wiped out, despite the heavy financial toll of coronavirus.

The club confirmed on Thursday they will be furloughing playing and support staff, part of wider cost-savings covering April and May, as well as coming to an agreement with India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on ending his overseas deal.

No cricket will be played across the country until at least May 28, but further delays are due and Gloucestershire moved to asserting their robust position, supported by a £40m funding package from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

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“The club is coming off the back of an excellent financial year and is well placed to manage the challenges of this period,” said a joint statement by chairman John Hollingdale and chief executive Will Brown.

“As a result of all (saving) measures, our financial projections show that, even in the worst-case scenario of no cricket at all this season, the club should be able to break even this year and be ready to face the future in a strong financial position when this crisis has passed.”

Sussex and Northamptonshire also joined the growing list of counties to furlough players, following a collective agreement brokered by the Professional Cricketers’ Association this week.

Sussex are in talks with Australia’s Travis Head, who had been lined up as their overseas professional, but there was also a cautiously optimistic note from chief executive Rob Andrew.

He believes the more modest wages involved in cricket could help the game bounce back quicker than football or rugby union, a sport in which he served as player, coach and administrator.

“We have asked the players to be furloughed and to take salary cuts in line with the rest of our staff, alongside the PCA recommendations which came out yesterday,” said Andrew.

“The overriding message is one of gratitude for the support that the staff – playing and non-playing – have shown at Sussex, as they have across the whole game, coming together and recognising the seriousness of the situation and cricket should take great credit for that.”

He added: “Yes, cricket has some challenges but you could argue it’s got fewer than maybe football or rugby union.

“In those sports the cost bases are driven by TV money and they are driven predominantly in player wages.

“I can’t comment on every county’s financial position but I do know there is an absolute will across the 18 counties and the ECB, who have reacted very quickly in this situation.

“Governing bodies often get a lot of stick, and I have personal experience of that in another sport, but the reaction across cricket has been fantastic.

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Off The Court: Tracey Neville and Tamsin Greenway discuss a world netball calendar

Tracey Neville and Tamsin Greenway discuss the opportunity netball has to coordinate a world calendar, during the latest episode of Off The Court.

With all netball across the world suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Neville believes this marks a moment in time for the sport to focus upon coordinating as a collective.

“This is a unique opportunity to be able to get together and come up with a league [calendar] that conforms with each other,” the former England Vitality Roses head coach said on Sky Sports’ Off The Court.

“Australia and New Zealand have both postponed their seasons too. Then you’ve got the international Quad Series in the diary for September but at the moment, that doesn’t look like it’s going to run.

“These domestic leagues are saying that they’re going to start at some point this year and I think, working together as international netball to coordinate them, would really set the precedent in respect to leading into a really slick international season.

“And, that means not missing out on any of the competitions which are supposed to happen this year.”

The topic of a world calendar is something Scotland’s new head coach, Greenway, has been passionately discussing for a long time.

“A global season, that at least works for the top six to eight countries in the world as a starting point would surely have its advantages,” Greenway said in a Sky Sports column in November last year.

“You only have to look at the rise of England and South Africa having regular opportunities against New Zealand and Australia.

“I’d love to see that happen for the likes of the top African and Caribbean nations too. I want to see the best players in the world in the best leagues, but I also want to make sure that their home country has the same support to improve world netball.”

Tamsin Greenway on the Superleague’s resumption

There are two ways to go. You’ve either got to play the whole thing out and have two rounds for everything or you’ve got to do a brand-new competition. You can’t just mix and match and say to teams now, perhaps we’ll just do half of the season and the results of the first four rounds count.I just don’t think that is fair.

Switching the focus back down to netball within England, Neville has concerns about the ability of Vitality Netball Superleague franchises to ride out this period of inactivity on court.

This week reigning champions Manchester Thunder announced they have turned to the government for assistance in order to look to try and secure the future of the franchise.

“Every franchise has their own unique circumstances as to how they pay their players and some of the franchises are not able to take the furlough,” Neville said on Off The Court.

“There are other franchises who are also supplementing other sports and franchises. A partnership with rugby, which one is going to take the priority, where are the finances are going to go?

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Darts player Keegan Brown on helping the NHS during coronvirus crisis

World No 30 darts player Keegan Brown has opened up on the challenges he is facing having swapped the oche for the hospital.

Brown is taking on more shifts working at a blood lab on the Isle of Wight while the darts season is put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The 27-year-old told Sky Sports News about the pressures facing his department and NHS staff across the country.

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“It is tough, I’m not going to lie,” he explained, “but we are one massive healthcare family and we’re coming together.

“This is every single department within hospitals up and down the country working together to make sure it’s a safe environment for anyone.

“A lot of staff members while working in the laboratory are taking training in different areas so we are getting ready to take over staff members’ jobs to the point that if they self-isolate we’re able back-fill, as such.”

On Thursday, Brown joined millions of people in the UK as they took to the street and opened windows to clap and cheer for NHS staff working through the tough conditions.

“It was weird, I live in Carisbrooke which is a small village just outside Newport on the Isle of Wight, and I thought ‘might as well open the window to see if we could hear any clapping’.

“It was like a celebration on New Year’s Eve. I was really overcome with emotion. All the extra hours that everyone’s putting in up and down the country, it feels like it’s worth it and you’re definitely getting appreciated.”

In the meantime Brown hasn’t closed the door on darts completely, keeping up when he can.

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Dublin star Siobhan Killeen tests positive for coronavirus and urges caution

Dublin ladies footballer Siobhán Killeen has revealed that she’s tested positive for COVID-19 – and has urged people to abide by expert advice in the fight against the coronavirus.

Killeen, 27, first experienced symptoms last Sunday evening, was tested on Monday, and received her result on Tuesday.

She is now self-isolating at home but reports that she’s doing well and is anxious to return to work when she’s given clearance to do so.

Killeen, a former Republic of Ireland soccer international who scored a remarkable individual tally of 5-4 for Clontarf in the 2018 All-Ireland Intermediate club final, is a radiographer at Dublin’s Mater Hospital.

She said: “I’m doing fine. I took a turn on Sunday evening, I got the sweats in the sitting room after working that morning, and a really bad headache.

“Up until that point, I was really well, really busy in work but quite active as well.

“I went for a run on the previous Friday, had a training session on my own on the Saturday, and a cycle after work on Sunday morning.

“I felt good, it wasn’t like my energy levels were low. On Sunday evening, I took a turn for the worse, and became unwell.

“That lasted all through the night, aches in my legs that travelled to my back.

“I never really got respiratory symptoms, I didn’t have difficulty breathing, a sore throat or cough.

“It was the sweats and headache and while, looking back, I may have coughed once or twice over the weekend, it was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Killeen rang into work on the Monday morning, was swabbed, and the results on Tuesday revealed that she was positive for coronavirus.

She reflects now: “I’m not an infectious disease expert, I’m just listening to what I’m told.

“I’m working in a hospital and taking the advice of experts, and following suit.

“We will get through it, once we all play our part, and everyone has such a big role to play.

“We need to obey the regulations that are being put in place.”

In her role as a radiographer, Killeen was playing a key role as the health system and the general population battles COVID-19.

She says: “Radiography is about diagnostics and we’d be very much in the front line in terms of diagnosing illnesses.

“One of them is COVID-19 and we were well prepared in terms of information, education, supplies.

“We always had the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and we were constantly being updated on what is a new enough illness, with information changing constantly.

“I wouldn’t have considered myself vulnerable but the stats are that 25 per cent of cases are healthcare workers and I was just maybe around it more often.

“I’m self-isolating for two weeks from when I first showed symptoms but I’m not thinking too much about that, especially when you’re 24 hours in a room.

“I’m taking it day by day and I’m quite well. I’m COVID-19 positive but I feel healthy and well and the hospital have been great.

“I’ve had infectious team doctors, occupational health and the HSE in touch to check on how I am. And a pulse oximeter checks my oxygen levels and my pulse, feeding electronically into an app on my phone and they can check that remotely, to see how I am over a long period.”

This isn’t the first battle that Killeen, a lethal forward for club and county, has had to face in recent times.

An innocuous training ground twist in April 2019 saw her sustain a hamstring injury so severe that it was ripped from her hip.

For 20 weeks after sustaining the career-threatening setback, Killeen was reliant on crutches, with her right leg in a DonJoy brace for 12 weeks, 24 hours a day.

“I had surgery to reattach it (hamstring),” Killeen explains. “It was done by a brilliant surgeon, Denis Collins in Santry. He warned me that the surgery was the easy part – and the rehab would be the tough part.

“I remember when I got the result of the injury, it felt like my world was crashing down.

“That might sound dramatic but football and sport was everything to me.

“But through it all, I had an unbelievable support system and the Dublin team kept me involved, which was huge for my mental health.”

While Killeen has worked hard to ensure that her hamstring is as good as it can be, her current focus is on getting through this current challenge.

She says: “It’s a real fight (for the country) and people have realised the seriousness of it.

“It does seem to have brought the country together in some way and in the hospital, there’s a real atmosphere of doing it together and fighting it together.

“I quickly had to distance myself from everyone and not to put those I love at risk.”

Killeen admits that while she takes on the virus and is doing all that she can, there’s a frustration when she goes online and reads stories about those who are not obeying Government guidelines.

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