By Paddy Hunter
and Niall McCoy
CONFUSION reigns over Conor McKenna’s apparent ‘positive’ Covid-19 test that had seemed to put his Aussie Rules future in doubt.
The Eglish man tested positive for the virus on Saturday, but on Tuesday he tested negative, raising the possibility that the weekend’s result was a false positive.
He had tested negative five times, including as recently as last Wednesday, before returning a low-level reading last Friday that was originally classified as an irregularity. Then came Saturday’s test result, which soon became headline news in Australia.
The implications of that initial suspected positive test were huge as his club, Essendon, saw their AFL match with Melbourne postponed. McKenna is also facing the possibility of a lengthy suspension after reportedly viewing a house and visiting friends in contravention of league guidelines on social distancing.
Teammate James Stewart was also facing the possibility of a 14-day quarantine after being judged as the only player to have had close contact with McKenna last Friday. That may change after further investigation of the testing.
On Tuesday morning, the Essendon club confirmed that McKenna had now tested negative for Covid-19.
“Essendon Football Club can confirm Conor McKenna has returned a negative result to his COVID-19 swab test on Tuesday, June 23,” said the Bombers.
“It has also been re-confirmed that the two swab tests taken on Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20 were both positive results.
“The club will work with relevant medical experts over the coming days to further understand these results.”
Prior to that negative result, three-time Premiership winner Cameron Mooney said that he could see the 24-year-old returning to Tyrone permanently following the issue.
“The future doesn’t look great. He probably wants to go home, wants to be home,” he told AFL show Fox Footy.
“Essendon had to persuade him to come back (to Australia) and after this you would expect the backlash will be pretty solid. If the suspension is a long one, it could be months, it could be the rest of the year. Will we see him again in football? I doubt it.”
McKenna, who returned to Ireland in February and again during the coronavirus outbreak, had been in hot water with the Essendon club late last year when he played a part for Eglish as they battled relegation.
At the time the talented attacker confirmed to the Herald that he would one day like to line out for Mickey Harte’s Tyrone, and said that he would be “willing to play his way into the team.”
Harte had included McKenna in his squad briefly before his move to the professional game in October 2014.