By Niall Sludden
KILLYCLOGHER defender Gábhán Sludden and his family have been personally affected by Covid-19 – so the uncertainty about when club action will return isn’t something that’s stressing him out.
Sludden tested positive for Covid-19 in the middle of January, and it proved to be a difficult fortnight for the 27-year-old Quantity Surveyor, who was effectively bed-bound at the peak of his illness.
A close family member of Sludden’s was also affected, while Nuala McAnenely – auntie of Tyrone star Niall Sludden, who’s Gábhán’s first cousin – sadly lost her life after a courageous four-week battle at the South West Acute Hospital last month. She was only 43 years of age.
So while there’s been a further delay to the return of intercounty training, Sludden isn’t worried at this point in time about possible negative repercussions that could have for the club scene.
“I’ve experienced Covid over the last month, it was a very rough time, and at the end of the day, people’s safety is a lot more important at this point in time than fulfilling club or county games.
“Whenever we started back training last year in June or July, it was a completely different situation. You didn’t know that many people who’d had Covid, and we’d no issues in the camp with either positive tests or close contacts.
“But at the moment it’s nearly easier to say who hasn’t experienced it than the other way around. Hopefully with the extended lockdown and the roll-out of the vaccines, we’ll start to see an easing of restrictions and get back into some form of group training, but it isn’t something that overly frustrates me due to my own personal experience, and that’s not to say that other people’s opinions are wrong.”
Sludden, who won a senior championship with Killyclogher in 2016, has been working remotely for the last 12 months, so he isn’t even sure how he contracted the virus. While he has recovered, it had a draining effect on his fitness levels and he’s only catching up now.
“We’d been abiding by the guidelines, not doing anything stupid, and I’ve been working from home for neatly a year now.
“It’s so unpredictable – you could pick it up in a way you’d never expect. I wasn’t feeling well, and I just thought it was one of those things, but I thought I’ll get tested anyway to rule it out, and I ended up testing positive.”
He continued: “My personal experience was that it was like an extreme flu. I had a constant headache for about a week and felt very fatigued, and I’d a temperature as well. At its peak I was basically bed-bound.
“Just going for a walk around the roads here was very draining on me. I’ve a home gym and couldn’t do any gym work for about a fortnight, and even when I got back at it, I realised how far I’d regressed after just two weeks of being ill.
“Some families are losing loved ones as a result of Covid, so I think it’d be selfish for people to kick up a fuss about getting back to training. Everybody seems to be experiencing it differently, so everyone is going to have a different opinion, but we had a death close enough to the family with Niall Sludden losing his auntie, so that puts things in a certain perspective for me.”
See this week’s Ulster Herald for the rest of our interview with Gábhán Sludden